Category Archives: California
After climbing around Bishop, we made our way through to Yosemite National Park which we were super excited about. However, once in the park we realized that all our plans had to be thrown out the window because the Yosemite Valley was full of smoke from nearby forest fires.
We spent two nights camping and doing what we could (not much so we caught up on some work) but then decided to cut our loses and head for northern California where hopefully the air would be cleaner. The drive was beautiful and we covered some new territory that we had been looking forward to for a long time. In the shadows of Mount Shasta we drove around looking for free camping. We were hoping to find a spot at the free campground near Crystal Lake but they were all full. Finding space would become a battle for the next few days with everyone on the west coast traveling through on their eclipse-bound road trips. We were doing the same so couldn’t be too mad, so we jumped in the amazing lake and felt instantly better.
Refreshed, we drove a few miles away into the forest where there was lots of free dispersed camping. We found a nice spot near a river with lots of grimy hippy kids. These were like the people we are used to seeing sleeping on the beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we weren’t too bothered by them. After being there only a few minutes a Forest Service ranger pulled into the area and about 10 of the hippie bums casually walked off into the woods, warning us as they went that the cops were here. Eventually the ranger came and walked through our camp, telling us to we might want to camp elsewhere. We didn’t find anyone threatening and kept to ourselves as did they. Our only complaint was that their drum circle that lasted til 2am. They were actually really good musicians, we just weren’t into it at the time.
The next day we payed for a campground with showers and laundry and enjoyed Lake Siskiyou by renting a stand-up paddleboard for the first time ever. Shasta was beautiful in the background and we hoped to come back later to hike the mountain.
On our last day in the area we hiked the McCloud River Trail, an easy, scenic hike which takes you by three different waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole and cliff jumps. We didn’t end up getting in because the cold mountain water was just too frigid! We couldn’t do it. It was great just to stick our feet in and admire the powerful waterfalls.
The eastern Sierras offer an abundance of outdoor activities and, with climbing being our main goal for this leg of the trip, Bishop was a great home base for exploring the area. We Couchsurfed with a very nice guy named Doug who showed us around town then left for work for four days. It was very generous of him to let us take over his house for that time. Gotta love Couchsurfing! Having just climbed Mt. Whitney, Doug’s house was a perfect place for us to rest our tired bones. I set up my solar panel out back and we made nice meals. Life was grand.
Before leaving on his work adventure hauling oil from the Nevada desert to Long Beach in southern California, Doug drove us around the small town telling us interesting facts. He told us about the Lone Pine earthquake around the turn of the 19th century that left the whole valley to the south 30 feet lower. He also told us about how Bishop could never expand because of the fact that all the land around the town is owned by Los Angeles County. Great amounts of water flow in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the spring and summer, accumulating in the lakes and rivers around Bishop. This water is collected and diverted into aqueducts that carry it more than 250 miles to the dry metropolis of L.A. It seemed wrong to us, but what do we know.
After Doug left for work we drove north towards Mammoth and checked out a few hot springs near the Mammoth Airport. First we found Wild Willy’s, which was awesome at first but then a van full of adolescent French kids interrupted our scenic soak. But there were more springs down the road and we found a cool group of people at Hilltop Hotsprings, a small pool with an amazing view. Everyone soon left except a guy who owned a ski shop in Mammoth Lakes. We talked about forest fires, as one had ignited nearby. He explained his idea to drop giant fireproof tarps over the fires to extinguish them. Sure, dude.
On our second day in Bishop we headed back towards the north looking for a recommended climbing crag called Clark Canyon. We got off road for a long time then realized we went the wrong way in. Around the other side of the hills the road got bad and we took our rock-crawling Prius to its offroading limits. The area was remote and probably a lot prettier before recent wildfires had blackened most of the trees. Just when I though we could go no further, about six miles and an hour through dirt, we came to the parking spot and geared up. The rock was fun volcanic tuff and we climbed a few routes. Several ways up I found some sketchy bolts and had to downclimb, but in general the area was great and we soon found ourselves worn out and headed home.
For our third day we headed to the famous Happy Boulders near Bishop. We got out there around 8 to avoid the heat and quickly found lots of fun rocks. There were hundreds, if not thousands of problems and we hung out for a few hours sending a few popular routes such as Heavenly Path, a great rock with a scary 20+ foot top out. We wore ourselves out early again and relaxed through the hot afternoon, making dinner and catching up on some TV shows. It sure was great having our own house.
Our last day in town we wanted to do some more climbing but all the spots around Bishop had some kind of issues, so we got up in the dark and drove south to try to tackle more routes in the Alabama Hills area near Lone Pine. We wanted to send the Shark Fin rock around sunrise to capture the classic picture of the climb with Mt. Whitney in the background. It was a fun climb and we got the perfect shot. Afterwards we went to the Tall Wall near the Meat Loaf Campsite. This was my first 100+ foot lead climb– super nerve racking but the adrenaline was well worth it. We climbed a little more nearby then went and found a fun chimney but it was nearing 100 degrees and we were tired so we hit up the Pizza Factory lunch buffet in Lone Pine and drove home to nap. We were finally feeling safer climbing and it was great. If only we had a few more months to bum around the States we might actually be good! But this would not be the trip that we became climbing pros, Alex Honnold your title is safe for now.
Stay tuned for tales of our adventures in Yosemite, Northern California, Oregon for the eclipse, and back to Black Rock City for the infamous Burning Man!
We woke up at the crack of dawn without getting much sleep because we were so excited to finally put our backpacks back on and do some adventuring!
I feel like I’m finally doing what I am meant to do again! It’s been a long year and half of helping other people travel (my job is Assistant Manager at a hostel), feeling a little bit more bored by the routine of it every day. I’m happiest when I have a light pack on my back and a plane ticket in my hand!
There is now a pedestrian bridge (Cross Border Express) from the San Diego side of the border into the Tijuana International Airport. The cost is $15 per person, but it’s super convenient as opposed to crossing on foot and having to take a Mexican taxi to the airport. I slip in and out of sleep on the flight from Tijuana to Chihuahua, catching glimpses of the turquoise-blue passage over the Sea of Cortez, then dry, craggy, cardboard-brown mountains jutting violently out of the flat, barren desert.
Chihuahua at first glance seems like the Wild West of Mexico. Lots of men wearing owboy hats and giant belt buckles, very few gringos. We had to use an ATM to withdraw pesos because there was not even a “casa de cambio” in the airport.
Chihuahua is close to Juarez and the landscape reminded me of the scary, violent scenes from “Sicario” as we rode into town on a taxi. I think it’s much safer, although not very touristy. Our friend from here warned us to stay in the main tourist town of the Copper Canyon (Cañon del Cobre), Creel, and not spend any nights in the small villages, as that’s where we could get kidnapped. Creepy.
Our taxi quickly dropped us off at the office of Autotransportes Turisticos de Noroeste. The ticket saleslady said something about our trip being slow but our Spanish was not up to par enough to understand why at that moment. On the bus, the city ended quickly and we rolled through open desert with mountains in the near distance. About an hour outside the city at the first toll plaza we saw the protest. People and trucks were blocking the highway in both directions. Apparently the price of fuel had been raised 20% overnight and everyone was mad. We had to wait about an hour before they let our bus through. The bus was slow and we had to wait at another roadblock; the mountains got bigger and trees started replacing the cacti as we got higher. It looked a lot like northern Arizona.
After roughly seven hours (should have only taken 4.5) we rolled into Creel, a cold and sleepy town after dark. Hotel Temescal was welcoming and warm, with super-cute Chihuahua pups to play with! Some authentic food at Restaurante Veronica was exactly what we needed. Zach got “El Norteño”, a cast-iron skilled of beef, cheese, and veggies, a traditional local dish.
We dropped into bed early, happy to have made it through our first big travel day and ready for more adventures!
We needed to get out of town and breathe some open air for a couple nights, so we settled on a hastily-researched camping getaway in Anza Borrego State Desert Park. Boy, did it deliver! The stars our first night out there were shining brighter than any I’ve seen anywhere else in California! Breathtaking!
We camped at Tamarisk Campground, which had spacious spots, clean bathrooms, and water spigots, basically everything you need for a good campout! The temperature dropped to around 50 F at night so the campfire was much needed! We spent the next day driving around the massive park getting our bearings. We didn’t do too much hiking because we had the dogs with us. They weren’t allowed on many trails and it was too hot to leave them in the car in the middle of the day. We’ll definitely have to come back to explore the Mud Caves and do the famous Palm Oasis hike.
We did check out the awesome visitor’s center, drove to the Ocotillo Sand Dunes, and then ate great cheap Mexican food in the tiny town of Borrego Springs. There were huge rusty animal sculptures all over the town so we had some photography fun with one of those.
The road home took us through Julian, so naturally we had to stop for some famous Julian apple pie! I’m so glad we were able to get out in nature for a couple days. My soul always feels refreshed after some time in the middle of nowhere!
Funny how things come full circle. Three years ago today, I sat in this same house, in this same town, Williams, AZ, planning the very first La Aventura Project. Tomorrow we leave with the same initial destination in mind–Burning Man! We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week. It’s never worked out, until now. As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating. I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures! (Yeah GoPro!) , planning the very first La Aventura Project. Tomorrow we leave with the same initial destination in mind–Burning Man! We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week. It’s never worked out, until now. As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating. I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures! (Yeah GoPro!) ! We’ve wanted to go back every single year since that first epic week. It’s never worked out, until now. As 2nd time burners this year I hope the experience will be more mythical, more colorful, more educational, more productive, shadier (as in…Zach’s very Boy Scout-ish hand-built shade structure) and just as exhilarating. I also plan to write more about it and take more pictures! (Yeah GoPro!)
Thoughts from on the road to Burning Man:
I REALLY hope Java Johnny is there again.
Man, that last bath felt so good. I’m going to hold it in my memory dearly for awhile.
I’m so excited that we have a solar shower!
What did we forget? Oh well, other citizens will let us borrow theirs.
I hope my outfits are rockin’ enough!
I wanna go to yoga every day! (Hope this happens.)
Will we be able to find all our friends there?
After the burn we head once again to SF (just like last time) to catch up with old friends and stuff ourselves on gourmet vegan food. We will probably find ourselves sitting in a lot of bars on my laptop while I finish up last minute video work, but that will be totally worth it, because, then…
The next overseas venture begins! On September 8 we fly to London by way of NYC (gotta have some fun there too!) for 6 weeks of western Europe and Morocco. Couchsurfing, hitchhiking, train-riding, museum-going, backpacking, wine-tasting, face-stuffing, camel-riding, surfing, people-watching extravaganza! Hopefully we’ll survive one trip involving four different foreign languages (more if you count Basque and Catelonian).
So stay tuned, although it’s only 8 weeks as opposed to a 7-month “aventura”, we’re still sooo excited for our first stint in Europa! And I can’t believe I am finally going back to Africa!!!!!!
Now to wrap it all up, here’s a video of a very angry frog found in Arizona.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/104949980″>frog</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/journeylostproductions”>Journey Lost Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Toledo, Ohio to San Diego, California
Grand Total: $669.76
We didn’t exactly live like paupers during this road trip. We Couchsurfed everywhere of course, but we also splurged on quite a few meals out and quite a few brewery stops in Colorado. It was a mini vacation! Still, I think the fact that we spent so little proves something…