Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3/31 - Lukewarm Springs

176 miles.

Took the high road into Taos, and the low road back. There's a dirt portion that drops you from the top of the canyon to the bottom, and then you follow the river – my favorite part. Also, it's a good thing I got used to worse dirt roads in Mexico.

I followed a trail to Manby Hot Springs. Clothing is optional, but when I got there kids were playing. Also, the river was high so the pools were mostly submerged in cold river water. When the wind blew...brrr. Oh well, it's a gorgeous hike and you can watch the river from the pools.

Oh yeah, and my first picture book, Such A Little Mouse, came out today!

Hostel buddies Jesse, Paul, and Danny and I went out for margaritas and mayhem to cap off the evening. Tomorrow, farewell to Santa Fe.

Monday, March 30, 2015

3/30 - All the Green Chiles

Toolin' around Santa Fe with hostel friends, grillin' and choppin'.

I nearly fell over on the Vespa, because it doesn't pick up the same at 7,199 feet above sea level.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

3/29 - Surprise, Lava Fields?

235 miles.

Pulling out of Zuni, and the home of Sheryl and Strallie, felt like leaving another world. There are some things in life that change you just by exposure.

I picked up historic Route 66 again for a while, there's an interesting stretch where suddenly the earth turns black and opens up in enormous rifts and cracks.

Also, hello, Santa Fe!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

3/28 - Mudhead Life Lessons

111 miles.

I was aiming for Santa Fe, but stopped in Zuni for a tamale. Sheryl was also picking up tamales, and invited me to stay at her home to watch traditional Zuni dancing that afternoon and night. It was one of those magical moments that could only happen on the road. I can't say thank you enough for her and her family's trust and kindness, for including me in a truly unforgettable evening.

Friday, March 27, 2015

3/27 - Teepees and RVs

241 miles.

Is the Blue Mesa blue because of the shadows from the setting sun, or will it look different in the midday light?

Struck up a conversation with Josh, who was playing guitar while his devices charged.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3/26 - Taking Care of Business

Back at Waldo's, running life maintenance. I stumbled into a cool co-working space, CO+HOOTS, while searching coffee shops to work out of today. I have not hit the tamale wall.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3/25 - Road Picklers

144 miles.

Back to Phoenix, but this time with road buddies! Funny to realize that though this is the third time I've crossed paths with Sash and Steve, I've never actually ridden with them outside of town. Bikes loaded for the move, Steve was in the lead and Sash was dancin' on her bike. It was great to have company on the road for this little stretch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3/24 - Dinner Conversation

85 miles.

Awesome ride up Mt Lemmon to Summerhaven. There isn't much to the little ski village at the top, but the temps are cooler and I got a bit of drawing done.

Dinner with Sash and Steve's friends, Chris and Mike, tonight! Super fun people who love their Royal Enfields. I got to throw my leg over a couple of their new models at Scoot Over earlier that day. Happy happy.

Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23 - Classing Up Loaded Potato Night

41 miles.

Sash and Steve know how to work the included meals. It's like they've been doing this for a while, or something...

When I finally got antsy from the coffee shop, I caught up with Steve on his ST for a scenic loop around Gates Pass.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

3/22 - Pocket Nutmeg

152 miles.

Over time, one of the things that happens with extended travel is that I stop putting my life on hold because I'm riding. Riding isn't a vacation for me, in that vacations are usually departures from normal, everyday grind and a chance for people to go crazy all-out spring break style. For me, it is everyday, and I have to find time to work, sleep, and take care of myself while covering miles. I couldn't be happier about this distribution of priorities, though it can be exhausting trying to stay in budget for extended travel time (pah!). Every so often, you just have to toss it all out the window.

What I'm setting up here is that I heard that the my longtime hero, Alton Brown, would be in Tucson, AZ for his live touring show. And Sash and Steve were already in Tucson, with an open couch invite.

Tickets in handheld device, I hit the road. Sometimes, the stars truly do align.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

3/21 - Burrito Frontiers

Last car day with Tim, a whopping 635 mile drive back to Phoenix just in time for his red eye back to Providence.

Upon Matt's suggestion, we stopped by Frontier Restaurant for lunch – absolutely winning. Also, Albuquerque is visually trapped in the 70s. Also, fandom donuts (bitch!).

Friday, March 20, 2015

3/20 - Antelope Interlopers

The coyotes kept me up at night, then Tim stole my sleeping pad as soon as I was off to pee. We counted 9 antelopes gracefully bounding through the campground in the dawn light, went by White Sands National Monument, and saw the world's largest Pistachio nut?!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

3/19 - Cow Chips

Be mindful when collecting rocks for the fire pit around here...

In spite of Tim's uncanny sense for the Mexican border and superconscious determination to point the car that way, we managed to find ourselves in Tombstone, AZ (tourist town in perpetual reenactment mode...that I was surprisingly into!) and eventually to a campground in New Mexico.

I hadn't expected to see his old tent, the one I had been borrowing for the first leg of the trip, again so soon. It had been shipped back when I finally bought a tent of my own. Admittedly, since the new tent, I realized I'd been swearing a lot less during the whole camping process. I can't tell if I miss it or not.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

3/18 - I'm Okay With This

I'm with Tim again, riding passenger in a rental car, just for a few days! How lucky, we hit rain. Tim is grumpy, but I am pretty pleased to be in a protected metal bubble for the first precipitation I've seen in a while. I also have no problem with sharing a cheap motel room because: indoors.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3/17 - Injera is Better With Friends

226 miles. Actually, that should read Tempe, AZ.

My check engine light came on and flicked off three times today. I checked the engine and oil level and there was no apparent reason for the light.

Then, Tim suggested perhaps it was due to lower octane fuel. I realized I was burning the last of my Mexican gas from the jerry can.

Could it be that my Vespa also just had a case of... bad gas from Mexico? Insert snickering here.

Speaking of gas, I had a fantastic Ethiopian dinner with Waldo and Piper, local scooter friend and roller derby daughter, and Tim, flown in from snow-covered Providence! I tend to overeat at Ethiopian restaurants, but sometimes it's just so good. After my first return shower in US water, I hit the Airbnb bed and couldn't move if I wanted to.

Monday, March 16, 2015

3/16 - Topes Will Get Me Yet

238 miles.

Speed bumps in Mexico, or topes, are not always well indicated.

Also, I have not hit my taco wall yet, but it's time to go back to the U.S. Hello, Yuma, AZ!

I evicted a pink tailed lizard for my camping spot off Ogilby Rd. I hoped he wouldn't come back for revenge in the middle of the night with all his pink-tailed friends.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

3/15 - What Luxury

Joined in with fellow hostel stayers for a group tour of the wineries outside Ensenada. What a luxury, to play tourist for the day and be driven around in a van, stepping out just to take photos and drink!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

3/14 - Swiss to the Rescue

My guts were roiling all day and I needed proximity to a reliable toilet. I took the opportunity to rest at the hostel and use their limitless and speedy (by comparison!) wifi, while Susanne and Matthew took the bus to La Bufadora.

Friday, March 13, 2015

3/13 - Baja Head

212 miles.

I meet many new people, but it's not often I get to see repeat faces. I was happy to see Susanne again at Ensenada Backpacker! Solo cyclist extraordinaire and fellow extended travel person, we shared a room with when I first passed through Ensenada. We met some of her Spanish class friends for a night on the town. What a change, from the remoteness of desert towns to the city of Ensenada. I followed Matt, Elisa, and Susanne through the nighttime tourist streets, wide-eyed, feeling like I had come in from the wild.

Also, I had serious Baja head happening from not showering since Bay of LA.

Also also, I've adopted the bandito look of wearing a bandanna at all times on the road. Otherwise, I roll into town with a road dirt beard. It was a few beards before I figured it out.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

3/12 - Tamales and Spaghetti

52 miles, round trip to the first restaurant I found open for lunch. It was Cinco Islas, fresh fish tacos, with owner/operator Augustine.

Dinner with new friends, Mike, Kristin, Don, and Mary. Such kindness! Time slips away in a place like Puertecitos.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3/11 - Tide Pool Hot Springs

162 miles.

The 24 miles of dirt from where I turned off of Mex-1 for Mex-5, via Coco's Corner, took me 4 hours including rest time. When I found pavement again, I spurred the scoot along at 70mph – it was the sweetest pavement in all of Mexico. The hot springs of Puertecitos was very much called for that night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

3/10 - Whale of a time!

I hopped a ride with Mauro and Alessandro in Mauro's 1971 Toyota camper! They had supplies to pick up in town, I had baby whales to pet. The camper has a top speed of maybe 40mph, making for a slow, beautiful sunset ride back to Mauro's Posada.

Monday, March 9, 2015

3/9 - Desert Pit Stop

184 miles.

At Maxine-Rose's request, I have a second drawing from today too, of us hanging out at Mauro's Posada.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

3/7 - Chickens and Chicken Scratching

Relaxing and drawing at the hostel today. Headlight bulb: replaced. Back is still sore, so I took a walk/scramble along the rocky beach and watched yet another sunset. A couple seals barked at each other on the rocks. My face is a bit sunburned, I think. Ahh.

Friday, March 6, 2015

3/6 - Bikes Pull In At Sunset

86 miles.

My back muscles are sore, but what a sleep. Nice slow ride via La Bufadora to Coyote Cal’s Hostel, a day late. The two adventure bikers I met at the border arrived, along with another group of six riders, guided by Chilly. Rick started a fantastic fire, and we gathered around it and gazed at the stars, primeval style.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

3/5 - Future Steph’s Problem

304 miles.

Hello, Baja California! What an epic day. I rode through desert, pine, snow, and wind. I crossed a border, and was chased by stray dogs. With the sunlight fading, a burnt out headlight, and several warnings not to ride at night in Mexico, I found the nearest hostel: Ensenada Backpacker. They welcomed me in and I squeezed my scooter into their locking courtyard. Stripped of saddle bags, it just barely fit. How will I extract it in the morning? That's a problem for Future Steph. Man, I don't envy her.

This is my first 300 mile day in months. I fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3/4 - Rally Withdrawal is Bittersweet

225 miles.

At the end of the rally everyone goes home to their normal life again, many to nurse beaten bodies and bruised livers. I go back to...more riding. What is normal anymore?

The waxing desert moon glowed pale blue through the fabric of my tent, bright enough to see. It matched the static electricity sparks thrown from the silk liner rubbing against my sleeping bag.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

3/3 - Atlantis?

Kyle (Boston’s last man standing) and I walked through the indoor shopping labyrinth known as the Mall, in search of pants. At one end is a round aquarium setup, which is labeled “Atlantis” on the map. I figured we found the lost island by the various Greek-esque fiberglass ruins for the fishies to play in. Not quite so impressive, until an enormous ray glided by and majestically smooshed its face against the glass.

Bar+Bistro for one last bourbon. Bath #3, and farewell to plush pillow and full size bed for a while.

Monday, March 2, 2015

3/2 - Drying Out

Drying out, in multiple senses of the word. A snowstorm was intent on keeping east coasters in Vegas, but eventually most of them boarded flights home. The beginning of the end.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3/1 - Tamales and Tails

52 miles, group ride to Red Rock Canyon.

Hit the Mexican flea market with Kyle and Paul B, and picked up another animal tail?! The obvious choice was to use it as a keychain, which proceeded to get caught on all the rocks in the canyon. As is tradition with rallies, at some point there will be rain and/or freezing. If rallies of the past have taught me anything though, it’s that putting bourbon on it will help.