Tuesday, November 30, 2010
First Day In The Baja---
Kent has a Green Card that lets him move easily in and out of the country, We completed the crossing - no big deal about 8:45 p.m. and headed south. We had 10 hours to go to get to our half way point - our goal for the day.
Beauty All Around!---
Right away the beautiful seascape showed itself as a place one would long to visit - the views right outside of Tijuana were unbelievable.
The big scare about Highway 1 through the Baja is the very narrow 2 lane highway that traverses the entire 1,000 mile corridor from Tijuana to Cabo, Mexico. We found the highway in great shape for most of the way south.
Road Condition Fiasco---
WOW! What A View!!!---
A friend and I decided to walk the streets of Cape Town armed with our cameras at hand and our curiosity. We discovered a whole new world filled with the most interesting people who is definitely not shy for the camera!
So let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy my take on documentary photography...till next time
Monday, November 29, 2010
Good Morning Everybody,
That's how I planned to begin today's post. That was pretty true to our experience, but after yesterday's 15 hour drive to San Diego, I think I'd rather begin, "Yesterday's first 6 hours of driving were easily the most grueling of the trip so far." The next 9 hours were pretty darn interesting too. Why, to much adventure ;~)
Monster Winds Hit Us
Remember back to our first day when I mentioned that the noise level In the Jeep's cab raises considerable as it speeds up to 75mph. We were only going 70mph but add 30 mph headwinds and it is like a screaming eagle was loose in the cab! We could barely hear the radio or even talk to each other.
It was like that for over three hours - where were my Bose noise canceling headphones when I need them ;~)
Snow Showers, NOT! BLIZZARD!!!
The strong winds continued as we climbed the mountains heading for the Continental Divide at about 6,000 feet above sea level. But now we had the beginnings of our next challenge - it started snowing, yes snowing!!!. We thought snow showers at first, but is was soon a full blown storm!
After we crossed the Continental Divide, we began descending the mountain, and thankfully the snow began to let up - whew, or so we thought.
As we got closer to Flagstaff, the snow kicked into the Blizzard category - snow was everywhere. It had just began, but it began with a ferociousness a big winter storm brings. The temperature dropped to 24 degrees and the snow was beginning to stick and stick hard.
Within minutes the highway was covered with a sheet of ice. Right before us two cars had just lost control and were in the ditch. Fortunately, no one seemed injured. Police were everywhere, the snow plows had hit the road, and traffic slowed to a crawl.
The we hear it, DING!! the low fuel light clicked on - we would be out of fuel in about 20 minutes. A quick check on the iPhone Around Me app showed a station just ahead. But in the snow storm, we missed the exit! Nothing else was popping up close by - we crossed our fingers.
About 5 miles down the road the snow cleared, temperatures warmed considerably, and a gas station popped up on our iPhone.
It’s Going To Be A Long Night
We were relieved to get the Jeep refilled, grab some refreshments, and just catch our breath a bit. I did a quick recheck of our mileage to San Diego. What!!! 477 miles, 7 3/4 hours away!!! It was going to be a long night.
Apparently, in my quick check the night before, the 630 miles was referring to air miles, not driving miles - whoops! I had just taken us 6 1/2 hours to cover what we thought we would cover in less than 5 hours and now we had almost 8 hours to go - bummer. This was going to be the longest drive day of the trip.
But men do what men have to do - we pushed on to San Diego.
Seeing The Face Of God
After catching our breath, we were underway again. As we headed to Phoenix, coming down out of the mountains, we could see the storm clearing in the distance. This timing coincided with the sun being quite low in the sky heading toward sunset.
With the combination of clearing storm and sunset, the next 30 minutes were simply amazing. The colors, textures, layers of tonalities - they were all around us. Each time the wind shifted, a brand new visual masterpiece presented itself to us as we drove out of the mountains.
The views were like seeing the face of God - utterly amazingly beautiful, breathtaking, awe inspiring!!! Fortunately Kent was driving so I was shooting like a crazy person trying to capture as much of the beauty as I could.
The Final 300 miles to San Diego - Dicey, Yes, Dicey
We made it though the 3 snow storms and finally to Phoenix, filled the Jeep for the millionth time and headed for San Diego. We had about 280 miles to get to our final destination - just about the distance we could travel on a tank of gas, or so we thought.
We grabbed some road food since our travels were not going to get us to our destination in time for dinner. It was going to be a long night. I was at the wheel and we headed into the night.
Everything else is going well, we were both wide awake, the drive was going smoothly, and we only had about 60 miles to go. Then we heard it DING!!! again - we were low on gas and in the middle of the mountains with no gas for quite a while.
On the way down the other side of the mountains, I spotted a casino advertising gas but Kent said to push on - uhmmmm, middle of nowhere and we are passing the only gas station we had seen for miles. Down the road a few more and a sign signaled gas only 1 mile away - great news!!! We made the exit, followed the signs and finally found ourselves in a tiny town with all the sidewalks rolled up for the night, including the corner gas station.
We caught the OPEN sign in a small motel nearby and headed there for help. After several shouts, and banging on the bell about a hundred times, a loud shriek rose from the back room - we had woken up an embarrassed innkeeper who kindly greeted us.
We explained our dilemma to Maria, the night clerk - we had driven 20 miles since the low fuel light DINGED. She gave us three gas station choices. We chose the one 14 miles away!! What, we were dead for sure - we were going to be stranded somewhere along I-8 and were never to make it to San Diego!!!
Kent was driving, I was watching the odometer as the miles rolled by - 5 miles, then 10, then 13 miles. Then there it was the exit for gas 1 mile away! Had we made it??? The Jeep was still running without any coughing or choking, we might make it. A few minutes later, we rolled into the Shell station, celebrated our good (lucky) fortune and let the Jeep lap up the high octane fuel.
The rest of the trip was easy, we arrived at our guests home around midnight – 15 hours after we had left Albuquerque. They who greeted us warmly, and after a short visit, showed us our accommodations. Kent and I opened a bottle of red colored adult beverage, toasted to the day, set the alarm for 6 a.m. - five hours later and we hit the sack.
Queuing Up For The Baja Run
Here is the problem. The drive through the Baja is 20 hours long. We want to make the trip in two days, which means 10 hours driving each day. You're thinking, "No big deal, right?" Well, it is kind of a medium sized deal.
Here's why - We are 11 months into 2010 and the are getting shorter and shorter, right. Pulling up my Sunrise, Sunset app shows that we only have about 11 hours of light in this part of the world at this time of the year.
We need to hit the road early today, about 7 a.m. and hope to make it to the half way point, San Ignacio, by 5:30 p.m. Still sounds like no big deal right. Well, we have a time change - in the WRONG direction - as we head to San Ignacio. We lose an hour, so it looks like we are going to cutting it pretty close. Well play it by ear today.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. With 5 hours of sleep and some quick morning grub, we are on our way. Wish us luck. If we have Internet connectivity where waver we stop this evening, I get another post up tomorrow. If we don't, look for a recap on Wednesday.
We're off to another 1000 miles of adventure --- hopefully ;~)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Good Morning Everybody,
It was really a long haul yesterday - Springfield, MO all the way to Albuquerque, NM. - about 830 miles and 12 1/2 hours later we called it a day. Our plan was to do the longer run yesterday so we would have a more leisurely 9 hour drive today - leisurely????
Hey, all kidding aside, today's travels take us through some really pretty country so we are looking forward to hitting the road.
I never got around to doing an interim "road post" yesterday. Why, because there just wasn't anything to blog about. That's not to say yesterday's drive was anything less than spectacular - but is was for a large part of the day.
Anyway, I’ll hit a few highlights, and some nice images along the way so why not give them a read below.
Off And Running Again
We enjoyed a nice, hot breakfast on the Doubletree Hotel, grabbed a few more of those famous Doubletree chocolate chip cookies for the road, filled the fuel tank to the top, and were off by 7:41 a.m. in the morning.
The weather was still a brisk 30+ degrees outside but once in the Jeep cab, we were good to go. We jumped onto I-44 out if Springfield, MO and pointed our Jeep west towards Tulsa, OK - about 120 miles away.
Tulsa, like a lot of the USA, was under road construction. My gosh, I think half the country is under construction these days ;~) We navigated the barrels, barriers, and blockades without much problem and the fact that it was Saturday meant very little traffic to contend with. We even spent a little time on the famous Route 66. Next stop, Oklahoma City, OK.
Most of this part of the drive was without much drama. The scenery this time of year, even though there was not a leaf on the trees, was still a pleasant view in all directions. Most would think of Oklahoma to be really flat, but it's not.
Our Gas Issues May Be Easing
Our hopes are rising about making it across that long, lonely, gasless stretch of the Baja. That gas barren stretch begins at the last gas station in El Rosasio and ends, as we found yesterday after checking Kent's official Baja atlas, about 240 miles away in the town of Guerrero Negro.
Most of the Baja journey is up and down and around the twists and turns of Mexico's Hwy 1 - average speed, about 35 mph. That's going to affect our MPG too so were putting the final touches on our travel plans through Mexico. More tomorrow.
Testing the "Road Cam"
So what do you do when you're kind of bored, you've run out of scintillating conversation with your road mate after 20 hours on the road - just kidding Kent, and you still have miles to go? The answer is simple, you pull out the "road cam"!
OK, what in the world is the "road cam" you ask? For this trip Kent and I planned to shoot some video, especially through the Baja run. But I wanted the video to have a unique perspective for many of the shots - hence, the "road cam" was born.
Now, I can't tell you the entire story about the "road cam" - I save that for next week after we arrive in Cabo, but I will show you a "proof of concept" in the video below. Just hit the PLAY button below and check out what two strange geeky guys do at 70mph along I-44 just to kill a little time;~)
It worked great didn't it? It gave you goose bumps as you watched it, didn't it? I knew it would. More testing today and then on to the Cecil B. DeMille production on Monday!
Finally, We Make It To "Whataburger Land"
After an exciting morning of "road cam" testing, you can really work up an appetite. It was about noon and we were just getting to Oklahoma City. It was a time for lunch. I did a quick Google Maps on one of the iPads we had in the cab, and there it was, a listing of all the Whataburgers in the city!
If you have never had a Whataburger, you have never had a hamburger. Whataburgers are about the best road warrior food you can get! It's not really fast food, it's kind of semi- fast food. You have to order it, then wait door it to be prepared.
You take your number and soon your meal, fries and a 6 inch diameter burger covered with 1 inch of lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard is delivered shortly afterwards piping hot and looking delicious. The server even shows a tray a condiments any of which you can choose to enhance your already 5 star dining experience.
Ladawn and I discovered Whataburgers on our DWUC and CBTL tour travels. I loved the retro look of the A-frame building and the personal touch by all the employees that worked there. Hey, TripAdvisor gives them 4 1/2 out of 5 stars - although still one of my road favorites, I don't think Kent was much impressed. You know, it's just that it takes a road rat connoisseur to to appreciate the best ;~)
We Fought The Sun And We Won!
I was driving and the sun was about to do it's thing just like it had the day before - it was getting ready to settle on the horizon and burn our eyes out again. Luckily for me, it was Kent's turn to drive.
The really cool thing about sunsets in this part of the country that I've noticed is how the sun doesn't just disappear below the horizon. It leaves a lasting ball of orange brightness right at the point of the horizon where it disappeared - kind of cool looking.
The Milky Way Test
And head west we did. The goal was to make it to Albuquerque so our drive today would be a bit easier. Kent had driven a few hours and I was still feeling great and we agreed I would take us the rest of the way.
But not before we tried another roadside experiment. In this part of the country devoid of any big cities for miles, the night sky is ablaze with stars. It is so easy to look up and see the Milky Way, all the constellations, and about a gazillion stars - it is a breathtaking site for sure.
I'm thinking, "How about my Canon 7D fitted with a wide angle lens wide open, 30 second exposure at ISO 6400 - could I get a night sky shot?" Well, the testing was less than conclusive but I still think there possibilities there. Maybe well give it a try again in Cabo.
We could see them in the distance, the city lights - we had made the long haul, 12 1/2 hours, 830 miles, one Whataburger stop, "road cam" testing, and Milky Way shooting and arrived safe and sound in the capital of the Land Of Enchantment.
We quickly checked in and planned to grab a great end of day meal at the hotel's restaurant. What a plan - we walked in to the completely empty restaurant, said HI to the server, who promptly seated us. I asked if we were the last customers of the evening? He quickly replied that we were not only the last, WE WERE THE FIRST OF THE DAY TOO!
Oh, oh...... You guessed it - dinner was not that good. Thank goodness for Whataburger earlier in the day ;~). Anyway, we wrapped the evening with an adult beverage in the hotel lounge and finally hit the sack about midnight. What a day.
Heading Out Leisurely Today
Today we make the final push to San Diego. The drive should be beautiful through the Southwest and we are looking forward to it. We head towards Flagstaff, then down to Phoenix, and then over to the West Coast. Hopefully we arrive around 6 p.m. this evening, get settled in, prepare for the first half of our big Baja run tomorrow.
So gang, that's it for me today. See ya' bright and early tomorrow.
Have a great one. David