Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrating the Holidays in San Ignacio

San Ignacio

A palm oasis
Quiet dammed river waters, darting coots,
Gliding over the cement causeway to the mellow plaza, ancient mission
A seemingly slower lifestyle, historical from the pictures of old times similar to present times.

Product packed mini stores, boys select gifts, "cinquenta pesos or less"
Now wrap them up, hide them - just a day more to go.

Down time.
Muscles gently unwind.
Appetites still ravenous, no worries. A break of a week - indulgence never felt better.

We rode hard and receive the reward.
Dust from the desert, spines and cactus green await our return to the road.

Christmas in San Ignacio was a special time. While unwinding, we experienced the joys of the Baja Sur, an outdoor kitchen, hikes in the desert, watching buzzards soar, and the warmth and hospitality of George and Jery at the "El Faro", Christmas dinner hosted by Juanita the local historian and the fun of sharing burria with tortillas and lobster salad and soccer in the street with a local family the morning after Christmas.

We're rested and ready to move down the road - out to the coast of the Sea of Cortez. Colonial towns and adventures await. It's good that the Baja is a long peninsula, and that we've finally reached a pace of travel we've been seeking - take it as it goes, living without a time frame.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baja California Only Gets Better

A most tasty lunch...desert style. No dishes to wash, no extra water needed.
Slice an avocado in half - toss the pit. Mince up the avocado with a knife. Add salt, chopped jalapeno and your favorite hot sauce. Right now we're carrying "Guacamaya". Mash up. Spread on a sliced bilote (bakery bun/bread), add slices of cheese, tomato and some canned tuna. Que rico!

Excerpts from journals:
"Dogs in the Morning" Today we woke up and a dog was on the side of my tent on my side. Then I got dressed and got out of the tent and I picked him up and made him warm. Then Dad made bread and cheese and jam for breakfast. After breakfast I found seven more pups and a mom. I sat down in a chair and the mom jumped up on me. That was a fun winery.

"Hot Springs in the Afternoon": Today we got off on a dirt road that said, "Three Km Hot Springs". So we went down that road and we turned left and then right. Finally we got to a little building with lots of washing machines and people washing their shoes all with warm water. Then we waited until a family hot tub was open. When it was open we went in and filled it up and then we got in. It felt really good.

"Today": Today we woke up in the desert in Baja and there were lots and lots of cactus. Then Dad started cooking up some egg sandwiches, I had two, they were good. After breakfast we took down the tents and walked back up the dirt road and we rode 18 km and then we had a snack. An hour later we had ham and cheese sandwiches. Then we rode on a little more and we got to a place where there were lots of trees and we camped there.

Today we had pancakes and oatmeal for breakfast. It was good because we had syrup on it. After breakfast I did my math work. After I did my math work I did two excellent spelling sentences with a picture. It was fun doing my school work.
Yesterday it was raining and we saw a tall upside-down carrot tree and it looked like a big pitchfork. Today it was sunny and we went up and down and there was not much traffic. We camped behind an old school. Tomorrow it will be a sunny day and there will be more hills and it will be fun. We will get to Catavina.

Dec. 15 Today we woke up and we had rice with jelly, raisins and mango in it. It was good. After breakfast Dad and Mom packed the bags and we left and it was so windy that Mom put a bandana over her ears and I put my hoody under my helmet. When a truck passed us it blew us. we had eggs and jelly on bread and hot cheese sandwiches for breakfast. After breakfast Dad noticed he had a flat tire. Then Dad fixed it. After Dad fixed it we got on the bike and we left camp and we found the dirt trail that lead to the main road and we had a side wind.

Tarn writes:
Today I was hapy.

It is going to be nine more days until Kristmas.

Today I fownd a rock.

December 17 There are eight more days until Kristmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rolling Across the Border, Mexico At Last

Markos' journal, Dec. 3
Today we started our day going to the post office and sending two notes. Then we went flat for a while and then went down hill and it was very windy. And then we turned left and went uphill and we saw Tecate from the top and we went down into Tecate.

Sampson's journal, Dec. 3
Today we woke up in Potrero with Mo and Tom. Then we had oatmeal with syrup. It was really good. Later we played ball while dad and mom packed up. When we were ready to go Mo and Tom said, "Goodbye!" and we rode up and down to Tecate. Before we went to Tecate we had to get a visa for 180 days. In Tecate we went to the bakery and got some fresh goodies. Then we went to a taco shop and I got a taco. Later we rode out of town. We found a big water park that was closed and we waited until a truck came up and said we could camp there. We had a good night.

Tarn writes, Dec. 4
We are camping at a winery and there is a zip-line next to us and it has a swing on it.

Waiting/watching the bikes at the border, Tanya writes:
"I Think I Know Why I Like Mexico"

It's being yet disappearing within a realm of hustle and noise
It's bits and pieces of words - a pleasant mixture of sound and meaning
Dry, dusty brown - healthy green, vibrant red, growing in a pot or can.

Roadworks, gravel, chunks of broken cement
Uneven sidewalks, wandering dogs, chained gnashing teeth scoundrels

Chipped paint, graffiti block-letter signed walls
Bent rebar, miscellaneous barbed wire.

Warm sunlight through haze
Uniformed vests, short sleeves on muscled chests
Identification name cards hanging on neck bands, slicked, styled hair.

Walking people - bags/purses.

Brown skin, black hair, hues of magenta, orange, red
Faces of nationalities - light to dark, striking to over-looked.

Refuse, piles of mixed debris
Plant matter, crushed plastic bottles, and muddy wrinkled up plastic bags

A greeting, time taken to spend the time, seemingly siempre agradable
Laughter, smiles or a smoke to share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zip-Tie Rims Along the Salton Sea to Markos' Birthday We Go!

"We are in a Holding Pattern until we get our rims"...echoes the phone in the other room. Logistics once again. Our second set of rims cracked, this time Rick alias McGyver used duct tape and an assortment of zip ties, enabling our family to travel several more days through the desert to the town of Brawley, CA. Here, "The Rock" coffee shop took care of us. Connections to a home for the night, fresh cookies, smoothies and storage of our bikes until our new rims come in...hopefully before the Thanksgiving/Christmas rush on the mail system. The rim manufacturer is standing by their product, apparently the rim problem for both sets was a factory defect. They are sending us the heartiest rims, built up as complete wheels, from Australia. In the mean time...a rental car back to San Diego, a gracious invitation from Mormor and Grandad K.O. to see family in Kansas City, and now... still waiting for those rims.

Sampson's spelling sentences:
1. We are going to be biking on our bicycles down the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is a long, oval lake.
2. In Joshua Tree National Park we walked through the cholla garden and where we walked there were little broken off pieces.
3. There are Creasote bushes in canyons in the Colorado Desert.

Markos journal:
Nov. 16 Today we went down a twenty mile down hill and crossed over the interstate and went up a gradual climb. Then we went down a gradual down hill and went through a canyon that was twelve miles long. The canyon was called Box Canyon and when we came out we saw the Salton Sea.
Nov. 17 Today Dad broke four zip ties and he replaced them with fatter ones. While Dad was working we were playing and using rocks to ply up sand pieces and put dirt on top and made sand pizza.

Tarn writes:
Nov. 15 At the library we read one book. I only got a little time on the computer. (Mecca Public Library, California)
Nov. 16 We saw lots of fruit and the fruit were lemons. Red and green and yellow peppers and there were lots of grapes.
Nov. 17 We made sand pizzas today and we got orange Powerade.
Nov. 18 Tonight I held a white bird. In the morning we were at the library. I drew the most pictures. (Brawley Public Library, California)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Desert to Sea and back again

It's been a time of creative logistics. After three days back in the land of dry deserts, toting several days of water and supplies and searching out shelter from the wind, I picked up an e-mail that my Grandfather Parnell had passed away. Thoughts of him filled my head as we pedaled through the desert and Rick and I formulated a plan for me to be able to attend his memorial service. Fortunately, we happened to be thirty miles from an interstate highway. Logistics involved a hitched ride, a rental truck, the stowage of our gear with the Hill family at their ranch, a home for the men of our family with Brad and Amy in San Diego, an airplane flight for me, a ride with my brother Parnell's family, and then all the same in reverse. It means a lot to me to have been able to participate in the celebration of an important mentor in my life.

We're back on the bikes, now headed into Joshua Tree National Park. Geometric stacks of tumbled boulders and Fall desert wild flowers decorate our view. Thanks to the National Park Service literature, we're finding the names for all our desert cactus finds.

Tarn writes (he really is writing now!!!) We got a big gourd. I drew on it. We went on a hike and I got lots of stickers in my shoe.

Markos: Yesterday we biked to a cafe and a guy was sweeping in front of it. We asked for some water. Then he asked us if we wanted a cold drink and we said, "Yes." Sampson and Dad went in and brought out two beers and one Gatorade that was lemon lime and we drank it in front of the store. When we were about to leave he gave mom a pink bandanna and us a black bandanna and the cafe was called Slash X Ranch. Today we had blue corn pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast Sampson got his cavity filled and after that we had lunch and one hour after nap time we went on a hike. I got a cholla cactus ball in my shoelace and I found dead cholla cactus too.

Sampson's journal entries continue to detail our Disneyland experience. I will be updating the Disneyland blog entry with his extensive documentation of our day at Disneyland.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our Road Family Expands

"Keep your expectations low, that way you'll always be happy," a joke Rick and I often make, actually the opposite of how we run our lives. We simply know things always work out. So Halloween is coming...where will we be?...for my sugar-starved children (especially Sampson), The thought of missing the bags of candy loot likely kept him up at night. Outwardly however, he appeared to be taking it in stride. We likely would be wild camping out in the desert when,.. Guess What! We pull up on a group of RV's out parked in public land. While we had just stopped in for some water, we find ourselves amongst a bunch of grandparents ready to take on our kids as their own. We scrape together some costumes from some miscellaneous desert debris (recycled remnants of a former mining camp) and three little goblins, or actually a ghoul, a monkey and a robot appear. Our RV friends have gathered all kinds of goodies: grapes, oranges, activity books, and of course the candy that anyone enjoying the good life seems to have around. Halloween happens whether you expect it or not. THANK YOU!!!

Markos writes: We went to a campground that had a pool that had a shower and when you swam under the shower it felt like rocks. Today we are camping in a big place that has lots of big trees all over like a tree fort and we found trees we could climb. It was fun. Tomorrow we will ride into Baker and get some food and water, then get on the bikes and ride through the Mojave Desert.

"Biscuit on a Stick" compliments of our RV family in Furnace Creek
Heat up the end of your stick in the fire and turn it round on a stick of butter. Firmly wrap a stretched out biscuit on the end of the stick, sealing up the end. Roast slowly and evenly over the fire until evenly golden and cooked. Slide the cooked biscuit off the end and fill the stick hole with jam, or cheese and bacon, or... whatever!

A side note...While formerly RV drivers had seemed to be rather anti-biker in general (as a whole RV's have given us the least amount of space on the road), our latest escapades with the seniors who inhabit them have been most enjoyable. Perhaps, like most things, getting to know the people and share experiences is the best education of all. RV's seem to be giving us more space already and perhaps the more RV drivers we meet, the more respect bikes will receive.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Death Valley - Only for the Hardiest of Souls

Extremes ...Lowest place in the continental USA (282 feet below sea level), hottest recorded temperatures (124 degrees F, 48 degrees Celcius), known to humble the sturdiest of souls. And location of my personal greatest bicycle challenge...two days into incredible head winds, the first with winds so strong and grade so steep (9%) that three hours of individual bike pumps paced with straining by foot up the unbikeable gusty stretches settled us into a wind blown campsite just below the guard rails and out of sight of the road. The second day held the finish of the climb, then a pedal down hill into the wind and landing at Stovepipe Springs Village within the wraps of a near white-out sandstorm. Needless to say we got a room that night - our first of the bicycle journey. Quite a come back after our down time in LA.

Markos writes Oct 27th...Yesterday we climbed up a very high pass, it was so windy we had to walk for three hours. Today we woke up and it was still windy so we did our (school) work in the tent. Tomorrow we will go to Furnace Creek and go over a pass. Oct 29, It was very windy and sandy yesterday so we got a hotel. Today we walked in the sand dunes for two hours and got lots of prickers in our bare feet. We are going out of Death Valley tomorrow.

Tarn describes Death Valley...Oct 30 There was a big canyon and we didn't know what was in it. I thought there was lava in it. Dad told me there was not lava in it. My brother Markos thought there was water in it but there wasn't.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cruising California by Cadillac Continued...

We're at the tail end of almost three weeks off the bikes. We are READY to travel by two wheels again. The fast life of the freeway is not for this family of five. However, the desire to visit family "drove" us to the alternative transportation. As Rick said yesterday when we pulled back into Bishop, "now we don't have to get back in a car for the rest of the journey".

What we did and saw:
San Diego, Sam and Lars, Brad and Amy, Sea World
Los Angeles, Uncle Dan and Aunt Felina, Cousin Daniel, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Huntington Gardens, two stitches for Tarn (a coffee table incident), Disneyland with Grandaddy Mac
San Luis Obispo, Uncle Bill, Farmers Markets and new shoes for Tarn and Sampson

Thank you to all for the gracious welcomes and the fun times spent with you.

Now we really are planning to get back on the bikes tomorrow. Death Valley still awaits and maps for the Baja are in our pannier library. Back to the familiar...the unknown of travel by bicycle.

Sampson writes...Huntington Gardens Today we went to Huntington Gardens. First we went to park and then went to check in. After, we were walking to the Kids' Garden and there were statues of naked old long bearded people. Then we got to the Kids' Garden. In the Kids' Garden we went through a little door and under bamboo trees. Then we got to ta part where little water spouts were spraying out forming a little dome. We stuck our hands in and it wasn't wet inside. After the Childrens' Garden we went in the big glass garden. Inside the garden were trees, plants and a pond of fish. Then we went to the "cloud forest" that was in the glass garden. In the "cloud forest" it was more of a bog and wetlands place. First we went to the side of the door and tested how much acid was in a pitcher plant. It was around 2 and 3. Then we pressed a button and little helicopter seeds went up in circles. It was telling us how they traveled in the wind.

Sampson's Disneyland experience, as entered in numerous daily journal entries for weeks following the actual day:

"The Entering of Disneyland"

Today we went to Disneyland. We walked from our hotel to Disneyland and got tickets and a "First Time at Disneyland" pin. Then we went to the entrance and there were pumpkins shaped like Mickey and Donald Duck. Then we went in and went to the "Tiki Room" and heard about the gods of rain and wind and the weather. When we went in the "Tiki Room" the little parrots and toucans started singing a song, then the white parrots came in and sang a song. The birds looked like they were real but they were really puppets.

After we did the "Tiki Room" we went to the "Amazon" boat ride. First we got in line. Then we got in the boat and I was in front. Next the boat started and we were in the "Amazon Jungle" with hippos in the water and elephants in the jungle. There were also apes, one of them had a rifle and there was a flipped over tour jeep. And there were "head hunters". At the end of the boat tour little Paranas jumped out of the water. Then we got off the boat.

After the "Amazon River Tour" we went to "Tarzan's Tree House". First we went up long circle stairs on a tree trunk. At the top we went on a bridge over to another tree trunk. Then we saw a little house in the tree with "Tarzan" as a baby with a "gorilla" holding him. It said that he was raised by the gorilla and grew up to be a strong man. Then we went across another bridge and saw a table with pots and pans that were used a instruments. We banged on the pots and pans with metal bars.

After "Tarzan's Tree House" we went across a bridge and around and under the bridge into the line of "The Pirates of the Caribbean". Then we got in a dark room with lots of pirates and parrots singing. Later we got on a boat. Then the boat started and there was a pirate in a house in the water smoking a pipe. After we went down a long cave underground. Then there were skeletons with maps and brides dancing and laughing. Then we went to another room with pirates having fights with guns. The we went up and got out of the boat and walked out.

After "The Pirates of the Caribbean" we went to the "Haunted House". First we got in line for about ten minutes. Then we got in a little share seat. Then we started and there was a big dining table with a chandelier. Then there was Jack as Santa Claus laughing. Then we got out, I like that ride.

After the "Haunted House" we walked to "Splash Mountain" and got in line, (Tarn and Markos and Dad went on the Pooh Bear ride). Then we got in a "log" with seats in it. Next we went up a hill and went into the "Briar Patch" and lots of big birds were singing with Brer Bear and Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit all tied up on a stick. Then we went down and around then back up. Then we went straight down and around and got out. I really like that ride.

...As you can see, Sampson thoroughly enjoyed Disneyland. Time is limited at the moment, I will add the continuation of his documentation of the experience at a later time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little Downtime in Southern California

A little time off the bikes, the generous loan of Grandpa Jerry's classy car
Visits to friends and family.
TLC that we store away, for future times to drawn upon.

A time of tuning bikes
Baking treats : muffins, scones, pies and oven meals
A real down time.
When thoughts of where we'll rest our heads, or cleanse our bodies, or fill our water bottles
Are absent.

We've really had a time to let our hair down.
Ride a roller coaster
Eat burgers and bowl (the bumpers up for the kids certainly helped the adult scores!)
And...plan our next point of attack.
Death Valley to Joshua Tree

Tarn dictates, Oct 15
At Grandma Susan's I always stayed on the floor. Sampson always stayed on the bed. Markos always stayed in the closet. We always played with the Duplo blocks and we played with cement and rock blocks. We went apple picking and we went to the creek. We went bowling. It was fun. We went to somebody else's house and they stayed at home and we went to Sea World and we went on a roller coaster. I did not like it. I thought it was going to be fun but it wasn't. I do not want to go again.

Markos' journal, October 12
At The Beach: We played with Brad's beach toys and made tunnels for water to come through. We pored the water from the bucket. It was sunny and nice today. There were lots of surfers and some were using paddles. The big waves washed in lots of kelp.

Sampson writes, October 13
Sea World: Today we went to Sea World and our friend gave us free tickets. Then we went to park and boy was the parking lot big! After that we went by the ticket posts, the tickets were seventy dollars. I'm glad we got tickets for free. Then Dad got on the phone and we looked at the map. Later we went to a sea lion exhibit and watched a sea lion story/trick. It was really funny. Then we started walking to the killer whale exhibit. On the way we saw some dolphins and sea turtles. We almost got to touch them. After the dolphins we went to the Shamu exhibit and watched a Shamu show. It was cool because the people were really strong swimmers. They stood up on Shamu's nose and fed all the orca whales fish. The whales splashed the first sixteen rows. They did back flips and jumped out of the water all the way. Later we did a ride that was really fun, we went up and down and sideways. Tarn didn't like it. After the ride we went to the Wild Arctic. It was cold but we saw a giant walrus and penguins, also some other arctic animals.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Road to Grandma Susan's

...Don't worry, we were safe and warm inside with wonderful hosts, delicious food, and a hitch to Bishop the next day. All's well that ends well on the road to Grandmother's house.

Also on the way...

Lake Tahoe
Topaz Lake
Bridgeport Reservoir
Mono Lake

Sierraville Hot Springs
Travertine Hot Springs

Luther Pass 7740 ft
Moniter Pass 8314 ft
Conway Summit 8139 ft

brisk sunny days
frosty nights
gusty winds
sand storms


Aunt Karen's Squash Soup (thanks Miguel for the calabaza!)

2T butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 med-sized butternut squash (about 4 lbs), peeled and seeded
4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into small pieces (4 cups)
7 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (or more)
1/2 cup plain yogurt, half and half or heavy cream

Melt butter, add onion, cook 10 min until softened. Add squash, apples, broth, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil over med heat. Cover, reduce heat to med-low, simmer 25 min until squash is tender. Remove the pan from heat. Let cool. Use a hand blender to process mixture until smooth. Add cream to taste. Apple pie a la mode for desert - of course, Mom's recipe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Sierra Nevadas of California

Markos writes: Sept 25 The Sugar Pine has huge pine cones. The sap feels like sugar on your hands. They are pokey and they have seeds. They are 11 - 20 inches long. Is that big or not? An oak tree has one inch acorns on it. They look like they have a hat on. White Spruce have one and one-half inch pine cones. They are very tiny. They are very easy to squish.

Sampson's journal: Sept. 24 Remote Control Airplanes at Sierra Hot Springs
Today we went to the airstrip and made pancakes. While we were making pancakes a truck drove up and two guys with remote control airplanes got out. Their names were Nick and Tom. They built a yellow airplane and a red airplane. The yellow one was a stunt plane and it did flips and glides and lots of tricks. The red one did the same but it was a little bit different. Once the yellow one did a glide land and it landed on its nose and broke the nose and propeller.

Tarn talks: Sept 24 There are lots of birthdays in this year. Remember when I swam back and forth at that other pool. I swam at Sierra Hot Springs too. I had a life jacket before and at Sierra Hot Springs I had a noodle. I was going so fast backwards. Then I swam all by myself.

Tarn turned five years old Sept. 23. For his birthday celebration we went to Sierra Hot Springs...a few days after. On his special day we made it into Quincy for a huge pancake breakfast out after tenting at the county fairgrounds with hundreds of firefighters. They had gathered from all around to fight a fire in a neighbouring area.

another Tanya poem as per Al's request...

It's Monday.
Warm Fall Breezes rock
Continuous waves to the shore.
A tree-lined edge lies below jutting rock mountain tops,
Gravel screes fill the space in between.

We're holding on to the last days of warmth at
high elevations.

Old playful logs, worn with time and waves
Bobble in the shallows.
The remnants of huge stumps act as harbors to these boats.

It's just us on this pebble beach, 'cepting a young man and his dog
Perhaps a traveler too, with the day to his choice
He too sees the sun sparkles
Hears the windy pines
Knows his own voice.

and one more...not sure how soon we'll be back on the blog

3 poles, netting
A floor and a fly.
A place of comfort
For star gazing the vast, broad sky.

Inside I have things that I need
A water bottle, a jar of bag balm
Chapstick, journal, book and sleeping sheet.
An open down sleeping bag over us two
A headlamp, a toque for over my hairdo.

When the road is desolate
The days hot and dry
Water scarce and maps untelling
of the days that before us lie...

My tent is a constant
I can handle what is before
For at night I'll rejuvinate
Upon its thin floor.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lava Beds National Monument

Markos' journal, Sept 17 - I will write about what I see. I see a bush. On the bush there are yellow flowers and lots of green little leaves. It has a skinny brown stem. I am writing about a bush. It is fun.

Sampson writes, Sept 17 - Today we biked to Lava Beds National Monument. At the lava caves we went in the visitor center and watched a video about the lava caves and the Modoc Indians. After that we went to the desk and rented some flashlights. Later we went to Mushpot Cave, an underground cave with a paved trail and lights. It also had some signs and buttons. After that we walked down the trail to the upper end of Sentinel Cave, it had no lights and a rocky trail. A little ways into it we all held hands and turned off our lights because we wanted to see how dark it was. When we were out we walked back and gave our lights back. Later we biked to the campground.

Tarn's thoughts...Sept 18- "Finding Snail Shells" I found snail shells in Eagle Lake. The ones in the water are alive and the ones out of the water were not alive. Some are big some are small. They are all white.

Ben's Freezer Fudge recipe...l

nut meats (fresh pecans from California, go in season and buy a big bag)
shredded coconut
cocoa (good stuff)
honey (more excellent, incredible stuff)

Combine in a food processor, shape in balls and freeze overnight

Tanya's realizations
Concerns about the modern world? There have been only good people we've met, crazy amazing parents, keepers of the earth and real people.