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Posts tagged ‘La Paz’

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.

Mountains abound in the Baja.

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.

Looking over the city from the southern outskirts.

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.

Children learned my favorite game from Dartmouth's DOC Trips.

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.

Portions of Highway One along the Sea of Cortés make California jealous.

Our cargo ferry across the sea to Mazatlan. We slept on the deck in our tent.

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Mailbag Monday #5

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear David,

How are you doing?  Do you like riding so far?  my name is Gavin.  I like to drive 4 wheeler.  It’s awesome!  I like to drive fast on the 4 wheeler.  Where do you live?

Sincerely,

Gavin

Pasture fences forced us to camp under this highway bridge near El Cien north of La Paz.

Dear Gavin,

I am doing very well.  After a 14 hour ferry ride across the Sea of Cortez, we are on mainland Mexico in the city of Mazatlan.  We left La Paz on a massive cargo ship.  Hundreds of people, along with their vehicles (a majority of which were loaded semi trucks) rode with us.  Accommodations were limited, so many people slept on the open deck.  Aside from the fact that we pitched our tent near the railing on the port side of the ship, it was an ordinary night for us (except when the wind and waves would rock the boat!).  Many were envious of our accommodations, which rarely happens!

I like to drive 4 wheeler, too!  Sometimes I wish my bike had a motor and throttle.  Descending hills and catching a tail wind are exhilarating.  They often fulfill my need for speed, too!  Before leaving on this trip, I lived at home where I grew up outside of Starkweather, ND.  Now, I live as a nomad on the road.  Most nights are spent in our tent off the road in pastureland or local’s yards, and some are spent in homes when we are invited.  After countless nights in a tent on a small air mattress, I will always be thankful for the comforts of a bed in the shelter of a home. Thank you for your letter, Gavin and have a wonderful Christmas!

Sincerely,

David Berg