Tag Archives: overlanding

Photo update

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Here is a photo montage of our last couple weeks on the road. Included in this set you will find shots of Sara ripping the surf, new friends that we have made while on the road, wildlife, sunsets, and more. While there is no time now to write an extensive blog post right now, I can assure you that Sara is shredding the surf and the Toyota is running great. Within a few days we will be in the state of Oaxaca (located in the Southwest part of Mexico).

Surfing in Mexico

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Once we departed the ferry from Baja we blazed down the central coast. Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area is a full blown tourist zone with overpriced everything. So far camping in Sayulita has been the most expensive campground since we left Jersey. We decided to head South South South, more and more. We spent some nights here and there looking for a quaint spot to set up for a bit.

We checked out Playa Pascuales, which is know for its tubes. Traveling surfers from around the globe flock here for world class waves. The swell rolled in just in time to witness some real surfing. These dudes are no-nonsense surfers who know what they’re doing, and do it well. If your unsure of your surfing ability (which I am) its best for you to stay out of the water with the rest of the jokers.

About an hour, or two,South of Pascuales is the small Mexican Indian Village known as La Ticla. The wave at La Ticla is not as heavy and dangerous as Pascuales, but since we arrived there has been a consistent Southwest swell producing anywhere from chest to double over-head waves every day, all day.  The camping is cheap, the village is minimal, and the locals (as well as the surf tourists) have been welcoming and generous. We have been here for about a week and plan to stay through Christmas (possibly New Years). There is big surf every day (all day), bathtub warm water, tamale ladies strolling through the camp, and Mexican surf tourists from the big cities telling stories.

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Baja rundown

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The Santa Marcela going full speed ahead.

We drove aboard the Santa Marcela today. This is a large freighter ship which transports vehicles from Southern Baja to Mainland Mexico. The Toyota (Big Red) appears to be the only non-commercial, non-tractor trailer vehicle onboard. There are two levels on the ship, on which the trucks are parked. Big Red happens to be nestled on the top deck exposed to the open air in the way back wedged between a tractor trailer carrying a hazardous chemical, a tomato truck, and the port side of the ship.  Judging by our spot on deck, I’m guessing we will be one of the last vehicles to exit the vessel. The crew, along with the truckers, all seem to fear Lupe and pass Big Red with extreme caution (we assume that this is because of her breed, and in most countries south of the boarder people own dogs for security, so most people assume she is peligroso.) Now we relax truck-side, tequila in hand, gazing at the new moon, and listening to diesel burn as we await our 16 hour journey to Mazatlan, Mexico.

Our experience in Baja, Mexico (which I like to refer to as Canada Jr.) in my opinion has been a good preliminary run before we enter the real Mexico. Minus the number of California expats and weekend warriors who come down to surf and fish, I was impressed by the number of Canadians who RV down south for the Winter. And what a great bunch they are, beer in hand and numerous stories of near RV collisions with trucks on the narrow two lane blacktop. Mex 1 is the highway which runs from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas and, at best, the road runs one lane in either direction, with zero to 6 inches of shoulder to a drop down on both sides. There are thousands of roadside shrines, which I’m guessing are where casualties occurred on these dicey highways. Not to mention the dangers of driving at night into roaming livestock.

The trip so far has been an epic one, but the surf has been mediocre at best. I think it’s the time of year and my lack of checking the forecast and just straight up hunting for wicked surf. There was one memorable head high day in Punta Conejo where the wind blew off shore most of the day and produced a super long left that rolled so perfect. The water was like glass and once noon hit everybody (like 8 people) went back to shore for the day while me and my new surf buddy, Craig, had it all to ourselves. I also had some of the best fishing days of my life off this rocky arroyo point. I was able to barter my camping fee with fresh fish, as well as feed most of the camp for a couple days.

Big Red has run flawlessly. We are quite proud of the old girl. We have found our way in more than a few predicaments where the road turned from bad to worse, turning around was not an option, mountain on one side and 100 foot drop to the sea on the other, while rock crawling up steep terrain in remote locations. For the most part our maps tell us what type of condition the road is in. The red line is a highway, the double line is improved dirt road, and the dotted line is the kinda road. So far Big red handles the double line with no issues at all, until yesterday, when we were headed North from Los Barriles to La Paz. Judging from the looks of “old foldie” (our map) we thought a relaxing scenic drive up the coast was in our future. The “over the top” gringo estates littered from Cabo up the East Cape were becoming few and far between the more North we went. This two lane dirt road was becoming a one lane snaking kinda road. “But this is a double line on the map.” A couple miles later put it in 4wd. Steeper and steeper, more narrow, now we are rock crawling in spots. I do see the evidence of a fresh dirt bike tire track, which make me think that people do actually travel this terra firma. We agreed to keep pushing on (also because there was no options to turn around.) We’re not scared of this dead drop cliff. Yea yea, blah blah blah, many miles later, stressful times behind the wheel, 4wd tires bouncing and skipping, shooting stones from under my Goodyears, the end was finally in sight. For the record I’m not a high five kinda guy (I despise football and most sporting games where high fiveing is a regular act of celebratory exchange.) but screw it, “gimme five baby.” lets get the fuckouttahere. It could have been a lot worse but I’m pretty sure the completely flat tire I had today at the super market was related to this endeavor. Tire plug kit out, compressor clamped to the battery, no problemo lets keep pushing on.

This is the road, the best part of the road after the rock crawling drama.

Look behind the boat, thats the road.
Look behind the boat, thats the road.

We would recommend absolutely anybody to drive down the Baja from the states (or from anywhere). Seniors, families, singles, or lovers, they all do this trip. As long as you keep your eyes on the road, and are not a complete idiot you should have little to no issues. There is uncrowded surf, an abundance of seafood to be caught then eaten, cheap accommodations (if you camp on the beach its free) and don’t forget some of the most epic scenery in the Americas. Mexicans are generous people with a proud culture, and they will make you feel very welcome in Canada Jr. Its been such a great transition from those everyday encounters you have with your average asshole in the states in the parking lot of your local Home Depot, or any parking lot for that matter.

Baja Fishing Update!!!

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We have all heard the rumors that Baja is abundant in the fishing department. Well, we can confirm that this is, in fact, true. Between diving for shellfish, spearing, and surfcasting we have been successful in gathering many meals, for ourselves, fellow campers, and friends. The ocean has been good to us. The act of sharing the daily catch, as well as knowledge regarding the local sea life, is a wonderful way to meet fellow travelers.  A camp can take on a true community feel when people come together to talk about fishing. In addition, finding creative ways to prepare newly identified sea life, with limited resources, can be a lot of fun!

You have all seen the famous Sardinetaco barracuda fishing video, but that was just the beginning. Once we departed from the Bahia de Los Angeles, we headed for Concepcion Bay. With a little advice from an expat who ran the local fishing supply store in Mulege, we were confident that the shellfish we saw while snorkeling were, in fact, delicious. We dove for fresh scallops and clams, gathering about 4 dozen scallops (in a couple hours).  The next day we gathered an estimated 100 clams in under an hour. The satisfaction of self-sufficiency and the fresh taste of the ocean left big smiles on our sun-beaten faces. These meals were not only delicious, but they were great for the budget as well.

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snapper

A few days later we arrived in Scorpion Bay (San Juanico). At this location we had no luck diving for shellfish, or surfcasting, but the spear (Hawaiian Sling) was the big winner. We were spearing small fish that I believe are called grunts, but I am not exactly sure. Either way they were plentiful, fun to spear, cooked whole with Old Bay, and super tasty.

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snapper, tuna, corvina

We hit the hot spot when we headed to Punta Conejo. With a little advice from the dude who ran the RV park called Palapa 206 in the city of Ciudad Constitucion we had bueno luck. The first morning we woke up at Punta Conejo, I was surfing by sunrise and amazed at how I was surrounded by fish in all directions. At any given time, in the early morning, there were countless fish jumping all around me.  Being surrounded by fins in the water left me with an eerie feeling, especially because no one else was out there (or on the beach). The next morning I was fishing before the sun came up and BLAMO!! 10 casts later I had snapper, tuna, corvina, etc. The next day it was the same thing, and so on. The Corvina was huge and one of the snappers was also a beast. While I was gutting the fish on the beach I was attracting attention at the surf break. People in the camp were stoked because we all got fed, I negotiated our camping fee with fresh fish, and there was some epic surfing to boot. And the rest is history. Thanks dad for teaching me how to fish back in the day. I guess I remember all those things you taught me.

Almost 6000 miles since Jersey…

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We said our final farewell to Colorado, anxious to cross into Mexico. Two months after our initial departure from Jersey, we are starting to feel like our trip has really begun. After over a year of planning and saving, we are ready to begin on this journey: the truck is dialed in, our attitudes are refreshed, and Lupe still has no clue what is going on.

After leaving Colorado, our first stop was Moab, Utah. It was truly breath-taking scenery, but high winds and chilly weather kept us moving southwest at a rapid pace. The landscape of the desert becomes hypnotizing after driving for days. Mexico is close, but driving long hours is hard. When I was younger I once drove for 19 hours straight, but those days are long over and the combination of sore bones and tired eyes makes me out around 8. The southwest has epic terrain, we have a yearning to stay and explore, but we know more interesting things are on the horizon and, besides, there is a sense of “been there, done that”. We have a stronger desire to get out of this country and feel the rush of being someplace unfamiliar. We blaze through Utah, Arizona, and the California desert, deciding to ride the adrenaline all the way to the border.

We spent a night in Potrero, California, at a campground only minutes from the border town of Tecate, Mexico. We had received word that this border was easy to cross, as well as uncrowded. This all sounded great considering that the first, and last, time I was in Tijiuana (many years ago) things went pretty sour, pretty quick. As it turns out, crossing the border was not nearly as big of a deal as we made it out to be. The Mexican border peeps were helpful and friendly. They spoke good english and gave us free tacos when we got across (that’s all true accept the free taco part.) But anyway, we crossed with ease, drove through the trash-ridden streets of Tecate, and cruised down into Northern Baja wine country. Yea, thats right, Northern Baja has wine country (aka Ruta del Vino). After a handy tip from a fellow camper, it was decided that we would drive a full day  past the riff-raff of North Baja, with hopes of arriving at a quieter place to pop-up the Autohome.

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After hours behind the wheel in Mexico, we took a sand covered road for about 10 miles to the fishing village of Punta Baja. This is, in fact, a surf destination, but with no one in sight, high winds, and cold water we decided to skip the surfing and pop open our box of wine. The view was epic, and the sound of the waves put us to sleep. Before we knew it Mexican fisherman were driving through our camp at dangerous speeds in classic toyota pickups. They barreled  down the dirt road before sunrise, making preparations for their day’s work. They did not mind us sleeping in their camp, but once again the high winds made us pack up and leave early.

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We decided to make the drive to the Sea of Cortez side of Baja to a town called Bahia de los Angeles. This drive is known as one of the “gas gaps”  meaning there is no fuel for hundreds of miles. I get about 250 to 300 miles to a tank so i felt pretty good about the situation, but to be cautious I filled up my two 5 gallon jerry cans. We set up camp on the beach.  The air was hot and dry and relaxing here for a couple nights sounded like a good idea. We busted out the snorkel and saw an abundance of sea life. There was an oversized flounder a few feet from my face camouflaged in the sand. This thing was the size of a Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres platter. I came to the conclusion that i now need a spear gun. I need to pick one of those up somewhere soon. We did wind up catching about 7 barracuda off the tip of the peninsula in about 20 minutes, but we can’t eat those so we threw them back.

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After a couple more military check points, that we pass with ease, we head further south. We currently sit in a an RV Park in the town of Guerrero Negro, in preparation fro our next destination. Our fellow campers have provided us with great tips about some spots to check out, and we are excited to continue onward.  Soon we will post up somewhere for a few days, relax, and fish. So far Mexico has been extremely pleasant, with warm hearted locals and and abundance of Canadian tourists.

Our New Facebook… dont sleep on this one!

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We were having some technical difficulties with our old sardinetco facebook account, so we started a new one. So if your interested in glancing inside our lives as overlanding vagabonds throughout North, Central and South America please peep and follow our new facebook page. CLICK THE LINK https://www.facebook.com/sardinetaco32

Our first 1300 miles

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Ok people, so here is the latest update. I am sure some of you are wondering where we are, and what we have been up to. We have been on the road for a week and we have traveled approximately 1,300 miles. I am currently sitting in a fold-out chair, on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina (within the Great Smoky Mountains). Our travels have been pretty good, so far. Once we said our final farewells to family and friends in Connecticut and NY State, we headed South.

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The first night there were issues finding a place to camp, and spending money on a campground was out of the question considering how we pride ourselves on frugal living, so we decided to drive to our friend Beaners place in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This visit was anything but uneventful. Once we were greeted by an intoxicated Beaner and his friend Chunk, we had to control Lupe ( Lupe has issues intoxicated people, as do many dogs and people). They meant well and we were all able to get the situation under control.

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The Bean is always a good time

Beaner instisted that we hit the town, and who are we to deny an invite. Beaner is a great host and seemed to know everybody in town, so having him as a sidekick was a pretty good time. As we went to our first destination and cracked open a few PBR’s, seconds later an older fellow in the resturant collapsed. Within moments the ambulance arrived on the scene.  We recieved word the old chap didn’t make it (may he rest in peace). This was a reminder to us all that life is short, make it count, and do what makes you happy.

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dinosaur in New Hope, PA

Next , we got some food, had some more drinks at some local establishments, met more locals, discussed our trip with people and had some dinosaur rides. We slept on Beans couch and departed the next morning after a delicious breakfast at Fred’s. We are thankful to Beaner for a great evening and his gracious hospitality.  New Hope was a great way to begin our trip!

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campsite on the Ohio Chesapeake canal, Maryland

We then found a campsite on the Maryland West Virginia border and set up shop for the night. The truck setup worked well, the food we cooked was tasty, and we slept sound on the banks of the Potomac. The next morning we rose early and hit the road, driving through the Shenandoah Mountains via Skyline Drive.  After taking in the views and snapping some flicks, we headed to Staunton,Virginia to Uncle Pat and Aunt Sue’s for a short, but sweet visit. We were greeted warmly, ate a delicious meal, were provided with a tour of the beautiful and historic downtown, discussed the Buddah, gained a little enlightenment, and then departed. Thank you Pat and Sue for your hospitality!

Skyline drive in the Shenandoah Mountains
Skyline drive in the Shenandoah Mountains

Next, it was onto Asheville, North Carolina. We walked the city a little, had a couple slices of pizza at the Magic Mushroom, saw plenty of freaks, then headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains to set up camp for the night.

Once we found a campsite, we did the usual thing, then planned a hike for the next day. We woke up and watched the sunrise, ate breakfast did a hike, and then headed to the Smokey Mountains. As pleasant as this all is, I think we might B-line it to Boulder Colorado soon to meet up with some friends for a bit and discuss the next leg of this adventure. Personally I am itching to get to the coast where we can surf and fish. We’ve been all around the USA over the years so its really nothing new to us. The sooner we cross the boarder into Mexico the better in my opinion.