Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Years in Baja California

After Christmas, I drove a car out to Los Angeles to my friend Susan's mom. It was a nice drive, and I was able to stop in San Diego and see my friends Matt and Andy from college. We had fun in San Diego, watching football, ultimate fighting, and walking to the local bars. The following morning I headed up to Los Angeles and called Susan's mom Margret to let her know I was on the way. She was kind enough to stay on the phone with me until I arrived at her door, and took me out for dinner as well, before boarding the train. The station below was great, but the train I bought my ticket for was canceled without warning, and the next one was late. This made for a late trip to Tijuana.
After arriving in Tijuana, I had another bite to eat, and caught a van to Rosarito, where I spent the night. The next day I walked around the town, had tacos, and caught a bus south. It was New Years Eve, and I could have stayed for the party scene, but I asked the gentleman at the bus station to recommend a relaxing little town which wouldn't be as crowded and focused on partying. He suggested Camalu. The bus for which I purchased a ticket was full, and the next bus required a stop in Ensenada. This would have been a nice place, as it had a nice little walking area. I kept on, however, and ended up in Cavalu later that night. It was extremely little. I mean, the only paved road was the road passing through the town, and the one pool hall I found didn't have anyone playing. It was pretty much dead, and my hitchhiking efforts led me nowhere. Luckily, a friend I met on the bus (below left of me) was getting gas and offered to take me to the next town south. He took me in his old Cadillac, and made great time. I don't know how fast he drove, but I know the Cadillac was pegged with the speedometer only going to 85mph. We stopped at an old schoolmate of his Miguel, and they caught up (below right of me)

We all had yoghurt, tamales, and grapes. It was very interesting, and my ride ended up having to leave because he received a call that his brother was in some sort of car accident. I was going to continue on south, because this town was even smaller than the last, but not far from a slightly larger place a bit further south. I was coaxed by the mom, Estela, to stay with the family there, and we had a great time chatting about all sorts of things.

For instance, Miguel plays soccer for his university, and could juggle a ball with all sorts of stalls, between his legs in the air, and quite acrobatically. The father told me of when he was in Arizona, and how he walked from Mexico all the way to Phoenix, for 3 straight days, and ended up staying a few months, and how it cost $2000 for the trip. Now he has a really nice little grocery store in town, where the mom made us all a wonderful breakfast in the morning. That night, however, we all had fun with fireworks, blowing up buckets, lighting off bottle rockets, etc... We celebrated midnight with a toast of orange fanta, and went to bed.

The following morning, the boys took me out to "the old mill", which is on the water. We saw some seals, and had a fun drive out. The "nopale" farm above was very interesting, as it seemed to be prickly pear cactus which are partially harvested for food, and is also featured on the Mexican flag as the bit where the eagle lands.

When I caught my bus, I headed south to Guerrero negro. I walked around, missed a bus further south because of a time change that occurs when you cross into south baja, and had some good conversations on the merits of Mexico vs. the USA in a bar. I also heard of a town called San Ignacio from some others, and how it was a good place to see whales and quaint.

I ended up heading there the next morning, and found that to get to see the whales, required a 60km ride on a dirt road, and that the van trip ($40US) was full for that afternoon. I decided to start walking until I could try and hitch there with a supply truck or something. I didn't have any luck for hours, and watched the eagles hunting prairie dogs and read a magazine. I started walking back to town, and got lucky catching a ride with a couple from Oregon who were going to camp out on the beach. The picture above shows the sand peninsula where the cabanas were at sunset. I was able to find a place to sleep, and had a small dinner. Since the whole place was solar powered, it was dark early, which meant an early nights sleep. I did manage to get up for the sunrise though, which was amazing.

I was able to get on a whale watching boat, which is just a small boat piloted by a local fisherman. The whales don't come in any large numbers until February and March, but we did manage to see a lot of birds.
We also saw dolphins, and had them playing directly next to the boat, and jumping in and out just by us.

I really enjoyed the dolphins, but we did also manage to see some whales.

A teacher from just south of Los Mochis saw what he thought was a dolphin, but was the young whale below. He was in very shallow water, and interesting to watch.We later saw an adult, and followed it for a while. Apparently, in the high season, they become used to the boats, and are also very playful. Our boat captain/minister/fisherman/mechanic told us many stories, about being lifted out of the water on the belly of a whale, by being splashed, having celebrities like Pierce Brosnan and Cameron Diaz, etc...
I was able to catch a ride with the teacher, Martin Cuevas, and his uncle, and we went and saw an oyster farm, and caught the same bus. I received a little bit of misinformation regarding the Ferry from Santa Rosalia to Guaymas, and luckily asked at the ferry station as the bus made a quick stop. It turned out that the ferry left early in the morning on Friday and Sunday, though I had been told evening. I decided to continue on to Mulege, a town about an hour south, anyway because I had already bought the ticket and had it in my head from speaking to some bikers, that it was a relaxed town. I arrived around 10pm, and it was also quite dead. I walked around, and decided to take a bus back north and catch the ferry in the morning back to Guaymas. of course, on the walk back I found a pool hall, and got into a few good games which helped me miss my bus. It was decided for me to stick around a couple of days.

The next morning I went to inquire at a dive shop about scuba diving. It was very expensive, but they also had a kayak, and I could use the gear for the day, so I agreed. I met James from San Francisco at the dive shop, and he drove me and the kayak to the beach after breakfast, and was also going diving the following day. I kayaked across the bay, and then did some snorkeling around the point. It was a great day, which ended with us eating a self caught lobster, scallops, and fish at a restaurant near the beach. The family that ran it was very friendly, and we ended up coming back later. We met a couple of photographers from Chicago, and tried to hit up the disco, but there wasn't much going on a Friday. Apparently Saturday was the night to be out.

The following day we went to "Burro Beach" to dive a wooden sailboat wreck. The wetsuits were hard to get on, and water wasn't clear. My vest kept inflating which meant I kept floating up, and releasing air and sinking, and it made the whole thing a pain. Our second dive was similar to my snorkeling the day before, but not as good. It was an ok experience. Maybe I have been spoiled by great diving the past year, and lunch included, boats to reefs, etc.... We did have a fun group though, which ended up with a night on the town, Poi ( a sort of fire on a rope thing) and a return trip to the restaurant on the beach, about 2 miles from town. We were even lucky enough to get a ride back to town with a nice guy in a pickup. When he dropped us off, he then gave us a 6 pack of beer because he didn't want to get yelled at by his daughter (his wife was with him in the car) Funny night. The disco was quite busy, and I slept for an hour and ran to catch the 4:30am bus to get the ferry.

The ferry was about 11 hours, and when I arrived in Guaymas I was able to meet my old friend Victor Calleja out for a couple of tacos, before catching my bus north. I arrived in Tucson around 5:30 am, and decided to walk home. I was so used to walking a few miles here and there, that it seemed like no big deal. Now, since getting back, I haven't walked anywhere. It is funny how things changed.

Well, Happy New Year. Take care.

Christmas - ish

Christmas eve and Christmas were spent with my roommate Andy, not doing a whole lot worth writing about, unless shuffleboard and pool in a bar is considered a festive Christmas. But after school and before Christmas, there were some fun little parties that let me be a real college student again. The pic below is of my beer pong (we won quite a lot) partner Patricia, who goes to school with me.
I also attended another party at my old work, which was a bit more formal. This is me and Emebet, who just moved to Atlanta and may have officially been my date for the party. It was nice to see everyone again, but I also felt a bit odd and out of place. I think if I actually still worked there, I may not have felt that way....

My friend Veronica invited me to another semi-formal Christmas / Holiday party, and it was very fun. I met a lot of people I didn't know, and there wasn't a dull moment. As you can see, they were prepared. I learned how to play a game called "flippy cup" which I had never played before. I guess as one grows up, you are always learning more.

Here is one of the hosts, Veronica, helping herself to some jello.

My friend Jim Kolbe, was gracious enough to let me use his cabin to relax at for a few days, down in Patagonia. The picture below is his patio, where I spent the evening grilling chicken, drinking beer, and smoking a cigar.

The property has a stream, and some incredible Cottonwood trees. The picture below features a huge hawk, which was evident even from far away.

I fell in love with this tree and took several pictures of it.
After my time at the cabin and in Tucson, I decided to take a short little adventure to California and Baja Mexico.

Crazy November, and Thanksgiving

The month of November was unusual. I had the opportunity to attend a NetImpact conference in Nashville, as well as go directly to the Greenbuild Expo in Chicago. Then, after a week of school, I headed to Denver to meet up with "family" for Thanksgiving.

This is my friend Courtney. She invited me to the NetImpact conference, which was very interesting. She also helped out with getting the funding approved, and we had some great nights out in Nashville, so we are pretty good buddies now. Before going to Chicago, I rented a car for a quick visit to Adam's place in Knoxville. It was good to see him, and casually mentioning Thanksgiving in Colorado had him booking a flight and joining us. We both used to play trumpet, but he can actually still play.
After Tennessee, I flew to Chicago. I was able to volunteer for the conference to get free admission. It was very interesting, and I met a lot of people and learned a lot. I also got to catch up with friends and family. Sommer (below right) let me stay at her place, and then my sister came to Chicago for some training, and we all went out one night.

At the conference, at an awards ceremony, I saw my old friend Emilie Hagen get an award for some up and coming green builder competition something or other. We were best buds when we studied in Germany, and it was great to see her. She had some friends visiting in Chicago, and we all met up for drinks. Of course, I couldn't just post a posed picture.

After getting back from Chicago, I had a crazy catch up week, and it was off to Colorado for a week of relaxing and hanging out with friends. Mike Adragna and Adam Doiron flew in, and we all (Heidi, Jeannie, Matt, Meghann, George) went to a condo in Winterpark. Just a relaxing weekend of cooking and all that is inolved with that, some board games, movies, and a night in town.

Above is Mike's only visit to the kitchen. I don't think he contributed much more than helping to empty that bottle. Probably better that way, as I doubt his food would have been eaten anyway.

This is the best picture I had of us all at the table. The food was excellent.
Immediately after dinner, and for much of the rest of the weekend, the area looked a lot more like this:
We did make it town. The below picture is significant, because it illustrates the door that was just behind me, blowing cold air on me everytime anyone wanted to go outside. As the evening went on, I became quite friendly with the passersby. There was even an accident which I may have instigated, but no need to go into details.

The evening became goofy, but no need to illustrate how. I will just show you how Adam and Meghann may have reacted to a buddy reunion.

Imagine, this man, if you can call him that, is a doctor.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heading back to Tucson

After getting back to the US, I still had the trip from Denver to Tucson. I hung out with my friend Heidi(on bike) in Colorado, and checked on the renters in Ft. Collins.

After that, I found a roadtrip buddy in Meghann McCormick. She just decided to come along and fly back from Phoenix, and was excellent company. First we headed to Telluride, a place I had never been, and was beautiful (below).

That evening, she tricked me into a game of foosball, and killed me, as she was captain of her college foosball team (they have those on the east coast). She is quite competitive I learned, and I promptly beat her at everything from pool to paper rock scissor. She promised to beat me as soon as a ping pong table was available.
We went for a drive up to a waterfall, which was full of fancy 4-wheelers. I thought the road was fine, until I got the car stuck, and we had to walk on.

Meghann was also a great contributor because of her exotic sandwiches. Ostrich, buffalo, etc... we had a cooler full from her work. Here she is, offering me up a tasty gourmet sandwich, voted Boulders best.

There were many views of Americana. There wasn't a dull moment.

Coming back into Arizona, there were the beautiful sunsets I had been missing. We ended up crashing at my friend Todd's house in Flagstaff, where I showed her how to play Ping Pong, in a crowded bar.

I ended up getting her to the Phoenix airport barely in time, and was soon back in Tucson.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My last few days in Switzerland

I can't do a blog of my adventures and not show pictures of the Alp, where my Grandpa has his cabin (below)

I was back for August 1st, which is Swiss Independence day. There were fireworks everywhere.

Switzerland is also a great place to catch up with family. My cousins (below) and I hitched to a lake party and got there quickly with 2 out of 3 total cars giving us a ride. The ride home took considerably longer, but did give us a ride to their door. It was great hanging out with them.

I was also able to go on an adventure with my old friend Hanspeter. We used to hang out when I visited Summers, and now he is a daddy. Below is a picture of a cliff, with the circled portion indicating where we came out of a cave, for a tremendous view.In order to get into the cave, you have to crawl through this crack, and then abseil into the pitch black hole. It was real adventure. Especially since only a handful of people have ever been inside. Not even my Grandpa knew about it. It was discovered a long time ago by a shepherd, who eventually went into the hole, and discovered a full bear skeleton, which is not in a museum.

Here we are, Hanspeter, me, and his dad. We all managed to squeeze our way to the hole. Then we enjoyed some cheese, salami, and bread. I think we also managed to finish off a bottle of wine.

Getting out of the cave was much tougher, because it inolved pulling yourself up the rope. That, among other things, showed me I am really not in very good shape.

The little red circle should be on this picture, though you may need to click to zoom. one is the entrance, the other the opening in the cliff.

I love the Swiss Mountains. If anyone has a job for me over there, please let me know.

Here is Hanspeter on another short adventure of ours, a different trip, which involved us on a little boat, swimming in the rain, on the lake near his house. We went to a small restaurant and had some fish. It was fun.