Highway One Diaries: Peace by the Sea
All_good_things_must come to an end, or so the saying goes. Highway One and its stories ended for us in La Paz near the southern tip of Baja California. Riding south along the Sea of Cortés and weaving back once more through the harsh deserts near Constitución made us anxious for the end of a long road stretching back to northern California. Our time on Highway One ran out and so this marks the last Highway One Diary for Bound South.
La Paz, “The Peace” by the sea, appeared on the horizon with no time to spare. The desert was wearing on us. Our last night before reaching the city we found ourselves on a desolate stretch of Highway One with little water, little food, no supplies within 40 kilometers, and worse yet, solid barbed wire fencing along each side of the highway. Any good bicycle expedition depends on fortuitous gaps in the cattleman’s or farmer’s fence. Through those gaps and into the wilderness we camp out of sight and leave in the morning, leaving nothing but tire tracks. When no gaps exist, we are forced to get creative; which in this case meant sleeping under a bridge that hummed and grumbled over us with every passing vehicle. Lest you get any romantic ideas about our brave campsite, it smelled like poop.
But then again, we probably did too. Lots of time and sweat and effort finally got us to La Paz, where the generosity of a Canadian family and a local church community connected us with unparalleled goodness. We stayed in tremendous luxury atop a hill overlooking the marina and its waterfront illuminated by city lights at night. David ran through a hellish college application gauntlet. Nathan ate absurd amounts of fresh fish tacos. I got to see my girlfriend. We spent some time by the ocean and the sights and sounds and smells of an authentic, working Mexican city. We went to church. We kayaked through a pack of jumping dolphins. We volunteered to help serve breakfast to numerous children in one of the poorer colonias on the outskirts of La Paz. One night, we ended up in a very questionable Mexican bar.
The magic passes by quickly, but the memories stay and sustain us as we ride further. La Paz was monumental for us; it was a kind of natural checkpoint, Nature’s confirmation that we’d done a pretty fine job of bicycle riding, and that it was time to ride a ferry across the sea. It felt like luxury, but perhaps the goodness and wonders of strangers and new lands is instead a necessity we all go without too often. Having repaired our bicycles, said our good-byes, and relished our last days of rest, we rode our bicycles over mountainous roads to Pichilingue where a Transportacion Maritima de California cargo ferry took us overnight to Mazatlán and the mainland of Mexico. This good thing, Highway One, has come to an end; yet the road and its people and its landscapes wait for us should we ever have the privilege to return to it once again.