‘Moon River’

We didn’t have an opportunity to post all of the blogs we created while in Baja.  Here’s one from our time in Bahia Concepcion.

On our way northbound, we could not wait to return to Bahia Concepcion.  A breathtakingly beautiful place where the mountains meet the azure blue waters of the Sea of Cortez.  Having met many travellers, we learned that Playa Escondida was THE beach to camp on.  It’s called Hidden Beach and is set back from the highway, over a mountain saddle away from everything. The roads leading to this beach are rugged and large RV’s cannot make it here.  We had no issues navigating the dirt road and welcomed the company of smaller campervans at our destination.

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The beach camping area was smaller than we anticipated and much busier.  The winds were strong and this was one of the few sheltered camping areas.  So we picked our spot and settled into our base camp for the night.

Our immediately neighbour, Dan, came over in the afternoon and introduced himself.  He quickly commented on our Nikon camera and its large zoom lens.   In the most respectful and courteous way,  Dan begged us to take a picture of the moon rising from behind the island in front of us.  He described the islands and the cactus and the mountains beyond, with the moon shining over the ocean water. And the incredible silhouette of the cactus atop this island.   It was quite the picture he was painting.   We were game.

Throughout the day, Dan gently reminded us of the time the moon hit this magical moment.  7:00 pm……

Now the pressure was on.  We set up our tripod and snapped as many shots as we could, hoping that we captured the image for Dan.

Dan was on a father-son camping trip with their golden lab, Timber.  He was a widower who has been travelling to Baja for many many years.

His description of the big event was impeccable.  The beauty of the moon rising, illuminating the Bay, back lighting the cactus was something we will remember for the rest of our lives. We all stood in silence soaking up the moment.

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Then as the moon rose higher and higher in the sky, a river of light appeared on the Sea of Cortez.  It was so bright none of us needed flashlights and Orion’s Belt was hardly visible.

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Dan asked us if we knew the song,  “Moon River”.

Debbie replied, “Yes.  It’s by Henry Mancini and I happen to have it on my iPod”.

Dan was gobsmacked.  He got a little emotional and shared with us that he had not heard the song since he was 12 years of age, more than 4 decades ago.   He asked if we could play it.

So Debbie queued up the song – an old time favourite of her late father’s.  She recalls him singing it to her when she was a little girl.

Under the full moon, Dan, Debbie, and Jeff crooned out loud the lyrics from this classic.  It was one of those precious shared experiences that brought Dan to tears and got Debbie choked up.  A special moment for each of us an individuals, and for us together – being total strangers.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossin’ you in style some day
Old dream maker, you heartbreaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me

 

 

 

 

 

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To Baja With Love

The trip of a lifetime awaits us in 7 days.

After a pretty quiet summer here in Canada with not a heck of a lot of bus roadtripping, we shipped Marigold to southern California.  Days before the Snowmageddon in Buffalo, we dropped off our bus at a dealership in order to be auto transported across America. Although we are based in TO, we save nearly $1,000 by shipping from the U.S. versus Canada.  Strange but true.

So about this big Baja adventure……

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We are driving 3,400 km from Costa Mesa, CA all the way down Baja California penninsula to Cabo San Lucas (and back) in 16 days.  We will be crossing the border on December 27, 2014.  The inspiration for the trip came from various things, people and experiences.  Quite frankly we didn’t think we could pull this off until the kids were older.  (We are travelling just the two of us – no kiddlets).  Thanks to our schedules, and the best Chistmas gift ever from Deb’s mom (the gift of babysitting), we are taking nearly 3 weeks for this trip.  Let us share a bit more about our love of Mexico and Baja specifically….

Jeff has many deep connections to Mexico.  Namely his mom, dad and sister (who are Canadian) moved to Mexico City when he was in high school.  He was fortunate to travel much of the Mexican countryside, truly experience the culture and learn some Spanish.  It was during this time he fell madly in love with air-cooled Vee Dubs and dreamt of owning one someday.  Sadly, Jeff’s mom was diagnosed with cancer while they were in Mexico and she passed away in Mexico City in 1988 at the young age of 46. An emotional connection to this country will forever stay with Jeff.

Meanwhile, Debbie first visited Baja in 1989 on a college trip.  Back then , Cabo was a sleepy fishing town wanting to grow big and become the next Puerto Vallarta.  It was love at first sight for Debbie.  The California grey whales, the sand, ocean, desert, fish tacos, and majestic mountains pretty much won her over.  She left Cabo longing to return someday.  It took more than two decades before her return.  In the last five years, she has visited Cabo three times, learned to surf and has shared this place her kids and several friends.

While on her most recent trip last Feb. 2014, she bought a book called, ‘Travellers Guide to Camping Mexico’s Baja’, by Church and Church.  She got this as a gift for Jeff hoping to spark his interest in driving Marigold there someday.  Debbie also took the time to speak with locales last year about the drive, safety, duration etc.  Everything checked out a-okay and they told her she bought the best resource guide – Church’s, ‘Baja Bible’.

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Little did we know the trip would become a reality so quickly. Guess that’s the power of positive intentions.

The last little while has been a mad scramble getting maps, auto insurance, health insurance, our FMM (tourist VISA) planning our route, researching all of the incredible things to see and do, and dreaming of the possibilities.  We are grateful for all of the people who have helped us thus far – Kristina Pearce who insisted Deb buy the Baja Camping Book while in Todos Santos a year ago, Jay Dean from Schmitt’s Audi in Buffalo for welcoming Marigold when auto shipping, Bill Staggs of VW Surfari in Costa Mesa, CA for receiving our bus and storing her until Boxing Day, plus all of the other people who have shared their knowledge of Baja with us.

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Our plan is to cross at Tecate and drive about 3 – 5 hours per day before setting up camp and settling down for the night.  Stops will allow us to do some adventuring – namely snorkelling with sea lions and whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez, seeing Scammon’s Lagoon where the California Grey whales give birth to their young, surfing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, camping on remote beaches, and then spending a few glorious days at boutique hotel – Rancho Pescadero – before turning around and heading back north.  We plan to camp in our bus the entire time, except our splurge of 2 nights at Rancho Pescadero just south of Todos Santos.

While Mexico has been getting a bad rap, Baja is isolated from the mainland drug lord violence. That being said, we are expecting some police checks along the way. Additional advice we received was to get as far away from northern Mexico as possible.  So, Day One will involve a lot of driving once we leave Tecate.  The other advice Debbie received was NEVER to drive at night.  The cows down there are jet black in colour and meander all over the roadways, making it impossible to see them from a distance.  So we will drive during daylight hours only and avoid getting the ‘horns’.

We’ve immersed ourselves in reading dozens of blogs of other RV and campervan adventurers posted over the years.  Many make this pilgrimage down the coast an annual tradition – and some have been doing this trek for more than three decades. We feel extremely comfortable and safe in undertaking this journey.

That being said, it is still a great big unknown.  We look forward to the mysteries and new discoveries during this epic road trip to a magical part of the world.

We plan to blog every day where possible and post loads of photos.  Our only limited factor is WiFi.  Not sure what we’ll find, however where there’s WiFi, there’ll be a blog.  We invite you to follow along.

To Baja:  Here we come!

With Love: Deb, Jeff and Marigold  XOXO

When Stars Align

Whew.  What a long day of driving.  Four states in one day – CA, NV, AZ and UT.

We finally arrived in St. George, Utah, near the famous Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  We booked a site at a State Park, as we were planning our trip during the US Gov’t shutdown, and we needed a guaranteed campground reservation.  Snow Canyon State Park was such a special treat – highlighting the best that Utah offers.  Buttes, mesas, red rocks, sandstone, cindercone volcanoes, and canyons.  Site #25 was our home for 2 nights, while we took in some world-famous mountain biking nearby.

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Jeff had brilliantly done some research beforehand, and conveniently booked some spa treatments at the Red Mountain Resort and Spa.  Little did we know, the Resort sits in the wilderness at the mouth of Snow Canyon – a mere 10 minute drive from our campsite.   The stars are indeed aligned.

Our first day of mountain biking took us to the Barrel Roll Trail in St. George.  This was after a yummy breakfast at Kneaders on Bluff Street.  Perfect trails to re-familiarize ourselves with our pedal-powered machines.  Beautiful sunshine, blue skies, arid climate and 21 degrees.  You couldn’t ask for better riding conditions.

St. George is a real gem.  We intentionally are NOT going to share much about this southwestern Utah town.  We wish to keep real estate prices low (yup – although a long shot, we actually are intrigued with the possibility of buying property here).  Let’s just say St. George is a cycling ‘Nirvana’ for both mountain and road riding.  It only gets one day of snowfall per year and that white stuff usually melts within the hour.  Warm, dry, sunny, big sky and a deep commitment to cycling (unlike the state of California)

Day Two of riding took us north towards Zion, and the famous Gooseberry Mesa Trail.  It was about an hour drive from St George through derelict Hurricane, UT and upwards through non-descript ranch lands.  We were a bit perplexed wondering where the heck this ‘epic scenic’ ride was occurring.  We picked Windmill Trailhead, one of the three launch points.  Shortly after saddling up, we were riding along the rim of a massive mesa overlooking Zion Canyon.  Drop offs were 1,000 + feet.   It reminded us of Porcupine Rim in Moab, and as far as we were concerned, it was equal in its majesty, and fun factor.

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Other than the super nasty spill Debbie took into some Utah rock and sharp Juniper bushes, we had a riot (she forgot to adjust the tension on her new XT pedals and was unable to unclip fast enough….oops).  The stars were aligned in that at EVERY outlook point, another rider seemed to magically appear.  And we only saw 2 other groups on the entire trail system.  Interestingly, one of the groups was a real surprise.  There were 5 elderly gentleman, accompanied by a guide, that had to be in their late 60’s to mid 70’s.  They were riding some of the easier trails, were a bit round through the middle, but were riding nevertheless.  And they seemed like little boys on their bikes – grinning from ear to ear.  So inspirational.

Next time we ride Gooseberry, we will camp on the BLM lands for free near the trailhead.   This seem to be the way of many in this region.  Camping on BLM lands is free, easy, plentiful and permissible by the State.

Post ride, and after nursing Debbie’s 3 massive Gooseberry goose-eggs, we packed up Marigold and drove to our final destination, Vegas.  But not before shooing some rogue cattle off our road, which blocked our way back to Hurricane, Utah.

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Checked into our Vegas hotel, quickly rinsed off, and then hit the Strip.  It was shocking to our systems, to say the least.  After sleeping underneath the stars and the desert darkness for a week, we were blinded by the lights and felt claustrophobic in the roaming crowds.  After less than 3 hours strolling the craziness of Vegas, we packed it in.  Done.  Nuff of the drunk craziness, cigar smoke and all the other gross excesses that Vegas embodies.

Marigold was parked safely at a storage facility near the McCarron airport.  She is a rock star.  Drove 1,300 miles problem free.  Tackled numerous high elevation mountain passes, kept us warm at night, and endured our off-road forays to reach trailheads and lookouts for photo ops.    She was our transportation, our shelter, our kitchen, our happy-people-meeter-greeter, and our conduit to adventure and the outdoors.

As we sit at the airport getting ready to fly home, it will likely takes days or even weeks for all of this to sink in.  In certain ways this trip was a sensory overload – in a good way.    We have so much to be grateful for.

The stars were certainly aligned for these 9 days of our lives.  Memories, however,  were created that will last a lifetime.

Ketchup Time.

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Time flies when you’re having fun – busy as bees the last few months travelling, cycling, and pursuing (and realizing) dreams.

We are about undertake a super-huge commitment in our relationship – one that will no doubt generate lots of blog posts.  We just became a modern-day “Brady Bunch”.  WE ADOPTED A NEW CHILD –  making us a blended family of 6 kids (3 boys, 3 girls).

So, about our new child:  She was born in 1976, and raised in Southern California, Westminster to be exact.  We are her third parents, and named her Marigold.  Confused?

Marigold is a VW hippy campervan, also known as a Westfalia, Baywindow, or ‘Westy’.

After a 6 month all-consuming, unsuccessful quest to find a mint bus, we shifted our cosmic energy in a big way.  Rather than us finding the bus, we decided that the bus would just find us.  And within one week, she did!  We flew down to LA to meet her, and instantly fell in love. She was everything we were looking for…!  A bright colour, rust-free, late 70’s model, with a solid engine and nice interior.  We bought Marigold from a man who obsessed over her for 35+ years.  She is a time capsule. 🙂

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Deal is done. She’s ours!

One of the coolest parts of all of this?  Before she met me (more than a year ago) Debbie had booked a trip to travel around California with her kids – and they were going to rent a VW bus just like Marigold!  I recently decided to join them on this adventure – before we bought Marigold. We’ve cancelled the bus rental, and in a few days, we are about to travel up and down scenic Hwy 1 from LA to my hometown of San Francisco in OUR OWN BUS!  Amazing how the Universe works….

From the time we bought her, until we pick her up next week, she has been in good hands getting primped up for our first trip together.  Her pop top was repainted, a new canvas tent and sway bars installed, and a few other little items have been purchased to welcome her into our family.

After our trip she will be shipped back to Toronto just in time for spring, and a new life filled with adventure.

More ‘Ketchup Time’ from the last few months:

  • Several cycling events last Fall, on our road and mountain bikes.  Centurion Blue Mountain, Pulse Racing 8 hour mountain bike race at Hardwood Hills  
  • Thanksgiving at Cannonball Cottage with all 5 kids for the first time
  • Mountain bike trip to Moab Utah, and Fruita Colorado
  • Almost bought a 1967 Split Window VW bus in Salt Lake City
  • Debbie learned to surf in Cabo Baja Mexico
  • I went skiing in Whistler
  • Plans were recently approved to build a coach house (aka ‘The Bikehaus’) in Debbie’s backyard

More soon from our California road trip, including our recent tea and bee obsessions!

Peace out.

JEC

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8 Hour Race: Team ‘NIGHT SPIDER RIDERS’

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D & J with the Fab Five at Cannonball Cottage

 

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Arches Nat’l Park near Moab, Utah

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Baja, Mexico – Surfing!