Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas 2006 Guatemala Expedition

My daughter Traci, her boyfriend Jay, and I decided to check out Guatemala for Christmas/ New Years 2006. We loved it! Highly recommended! The Mayan culture is really a treat.

Here I am having breakfast at a street vendor stall in the biggest market in Guatemala (Chichicastenango). Yummy!

A cemetery in "Chichi"!

Waiting for the bus!

A rooftop coffee shop with a great view of one of the many volcano's in Guatemala.

I had fun speaking Spanish to these kids in a cafe (They were more fluent than me) and they wanted to give me a hug when we finished talking. Fun!

We think it was safe but we wondered a little bit about it when we took a bus to a Volcano and the driver was this guy. Yes, that's a 12 gauge!

Hiking to the volcano!

Oh yeah! It was blasting off big time. We hiked a couple of miles to get to this spot. Walking out on the lava flows was cool (hot actually) and we lit sticks on fire in the cracks with red hot lava in them.

We were very excited to fly to Tikal to visit the ruins. They were even better than I expected. Highly recommended!

Traci and I at the ruins!

Traci and Jay!

While site-seeing one of the (many) cathedrals around Antigua, we found some very fresh goat milk for a snack. It was very good. Highly recommended!

The entire town of Antigua seemed to blasting off lots of firecrackers (some sounded heavy duty - note the size of the ones I'm holding) at regular intervals for some days around New Years. We had to join in the fun and loved setting them off in front of the police station.

Here I am at the wonderful Spanish immersion school. There's one teacher per student and it's fun. We were in an open air cubicle in a beautiful garden.

I was thinking about getting a Harley Davidson tattoo after I heard about the shop from some college kids that were visiting from the states. I heard the price was right. Clean???

On a night out I thought it would be fun to "sit in" with the band. I played drums in a Blues band in Colorado Spring so I figured I had the credentials for it?

I just had to have that tattoo.


Epic Copper Canyon Adventure - October 2007

Wow! Another epic Copper Canyon Adventure completed. Dave Fulkerson and I trailered our dirtbikes to Creel in Mid October to ride for two weeks and find some new routes. We rode to Batopilas, Choix, El Fuerte, Alamos, Chinipas, Temoris, Urique and back to Creel. Here's the beutiful Lake Arareco where you can camp, kayak, hike and Mtn. Bike.

The Copper Canyon is really a system of five canyons with a combined volume four times bigger than the Grand Canyon. The top sits at 8K feet elevation and the bottom is at 1,700 feet.

We passed by this Tarahumara "ranch" on our hike to the Cusarare Falls.

Cusarare Falls.

Quite a few of the fifty thousand Tarahumaras that live in the Copper Canyon still live in caves.

On the way to Batopilas! What an exciting ride! Dropping from 8K feet elevation to 1,700 feet over 40 miles of dirt road switchbacks is a thrill. You'll see the old "Camino Real" burro trail as you travel down canyon. A hundred years ago, when the big silver mine was operating, the burro trail was the only way down.

The main Plaza in Batopilas! A "Wild West Town" according to the travel brochures. Burros, horses and cows may roam the streets.

Munerachi! A funky Tarahumara village. A road to the village from Batopilas was only made in the last two years. I tried to go there by dirtbike on several trips but never made it. Rolling up to the gates of the community school, the kids all ran out to welcome me and open the gates. I said my one word of Tarahumar for hello and spoke spanish with the teachers and kids. I wanted to hike a 100 year old burro trail a couple of thousand feet of elevation above the village. The Tarahumaras are runners and they seemed impressed when I told them how far up I made it.

Satevo! The Lost Mission! It wasn't really lost but it seems out of place in middle of a canyon with barely any population. Must see!

The Tarahumaras are shy, and wonderfully beatiful people. They live a subsistance life in the canyons. They don't generally want their picture taken but some will accept payment for the right to take a picture as I did. She enjoyed seeing the Pic on my digital camera. A local mexican overheard me talking to her and whispered to me. "Usted es un buen hombre. "

Here's Dave crossing the Urique River. A challenge!

Dave and I were wandering the streets of Choix on Sunday morning looking for a panaderia and coffee when we met a lady who directed us to this house. The lady cooks meals for bus drivers and others in her house. A home cafe! The eating/ cooking area was in back, on the patio. Dave and I enjoyed "hangin'" so much, we stayed for breakfast and lunch.

At our hotel in Chinipas (another town straight out of the old west) we made new friends from Parral who worked for the electric company but are "charged" by the government to distribute election materials for about six months of the year.

Mission at Cerocahui! Many of the tour groups take a side trip from their Copper Canyon Train trip to spend a night here. The train is famous worldwide with 86 tunnels and 38 bridges. It even loops back under itself. It runs between Chihuahua and Los Mochis.

Urique! A few years ago, I ran a race with five Tarahumaras, from Batopilas to here, by going 30 miles and climbing about 6,000 feet of elevation over the mountains you see behind the town. I really trained hard for that run and it took me 10 hours. The Tarahumaras did it in 5-1/2 hours. They're tough!

Here I am in Urique repairing one of the three flat tires I had in as many days.

When I ran that race with the Tarahumaras. I had camped out at Los Alisos on the "Pre-Hike" and ran back thru there during the race. Micah True from Batopilas/ Boulder, CO is the race director and was written up in Runner's World.

I'd been wanting to go back and visit Prospero, the "rancho" owner but tried a couple of years ago and lost my way. There's no road to the "rancho", only a walking trail. You have to hike a couple of miles and 1,700 feet of elevation. This Tarahumara girl is grinding pumkin seeds on a matate. It's used regularly to grind corn to eat.

Here I am with Prospero. I'm the one on the left. He's holding the marzipan and jelly that I took up for a gift. We sat around and drank coffee from the beans he grows and ate peanuts that he grows as well. There used to be about twelve families living there and they had a school on site. Now it's only Prospero and a Tarahumara family that works for him and shares (Korima) the harvest.

Prospero's wife and son are working in Chihuahua to earn some cash and here's the Tarahumara family.

Copper Canyon Train!

Looking out the windows at Divisadero Hotel. I love to stop here for a coffee and cake and look down into the canyon. There are trails near the hotel that lead to the canyon bottom.

Margarita's Guest House! One of several hotels that Margarita owns. This one may be the most fun. On our last night, all the private rooms were booked so Dave and I stayed in a hostel room with about eight bunks. We paid $8 for two people but that included two dinners and two breakfasts that were yummy.

That's not Margarita in the Pic.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Baja Tip to Tip Motorcycle Adventure

Fifteen trips to Baja and I still hadn't ridden "Tip to Tip" (Border to Cabo). Turning 65 in October was good enough reason for me to head out on an EPIC 2,800 mile adventure ride down Baja.

Driving on ice for six hours was a cool (pun intended) way to kick off two weeks of fun in the sun on MC's. A Suzuki DL 650 VStrom and Yamaha FJ1300 would be our trusty steeds for this mission.

Tom and I drove to Tucson to meet our friend Tim and start the adventure.

We met Tim and his beautiful Harley looked ready.

Tim was very excited and said he'd always dreamed of riding his bike down the Baja and now was the time.

That's me in the middle.

Our first breakfast was a very clean looking "street" taco stand and we loved it.

We decided we'd turn away no food.

We didn't drink the tap water (we did rinse our toothbrushes in it) but we always cleaned our plates.

I'm always amazed at how many people think that fish tacos sound unappetizing.


Unless you don't like fish in general, you'll love them. Our crew agreed that you must do the Baja to experience the best fish tacos.

Cool taco stand is in Guerrero Negro!

Surely they didn't mean us when they put up this sign?

While most people think of Baja as a dry, flat, desert kind of place, it has five mountain ranges with peaks as high as 10,000 feet.

A national park with an observatory sits at 9,000 feet elevation and the paved road up to it is full of tight/ fun turns for a motorcycle.
Once you enter the park, the road turns to dirt and we wanted to see the observatory.

Of course we decided the sign was meant for dirt-bikes and we rode on. Within a few miles we encountered the security patrol who flagged us down and wasn't amused when I explained the dirt-bike theory.

An abundance of plant life exists in Baja and in the Spring the desert is filled with blooming cactus.

These Boojum trees provide an eerie look and are only found in a narrow latitude band.

San Ignacio is one of my favorite places to hang out in Baja.

The mission is one of the most beautiful and the plaza is very relaxing.

This is the place to book whale (Grey's) watching with the most friendly (it's very common to pet them) whales in Baja.

You can also arrange multi-day mule trips to visit the prehistoric cave paintings in canyon San Francisco.

San Ignacio Mission

I'm planning to climb Kilimanjaro in 2/08 and thought climbing the Tres Virgenes volcano would help my conditioning and offset a few of those fish tacos.

From the altitude where our bikes are parked to the top is about a 4,000 foot climb.

The peak is around 6,000 feet.
We tried to get close enough for a quick climb but the road was closed and we didn't have the necessary permission to go in.

There's a thermo-electric generating plant near the trail-head.

We made it!

San Lucas and it's famous marina. We were impressed but decided it was way too touristy for us and headed for San Jose del Cabo and then Los Barilles for some Baja Times.

We were looking for a couple of parts at the Cabo Harley Davidson dealership and met Dave, the owner. What a nice guy! He put our bikes in his shop ahead of all other jobs, checked some things out for us, and then insisted on a complete clean-up for our bikes. They looked new after that. We couldn't believe it when Dave said we could park our bikes in front of his shop (it fronts on the marina). We were so excited to ride the bikes in and pose for this photo OP.

Los Barilles on the East Cape is quite the place. Sandie (my wife) and I had camped there a couple of years ago in our RV. Quite a few Hi-Wind windsurfer and kite-boarder people hang there for the winter. Almost every day the windsurfers are hitting 30 MPH or so (the record is above 50 MPH and the kite-boarders are jumping the waves and defying gravity.

This place is what Baja is all about.

Next on our list of tickets to be punched was the 18 hour ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan. My buddy Harry lives there from November till April and invited us to visit. After a two hour wait in the line to board (the six guys with clipboards that all seemed to be making note of each tractor-trailer that drove on board said we'd board last but we'd get off first) we finally rode down the ramp and watched with trepidation as the "hands" lashed our bikes down with not much more than tomato twine.

Mine had real straps but the others looked shaky.

We made it to Mazatlan on time but I'd strongly advise not having a cup of Joe and a snickers bar immediately after embarking when you're going to experience 6 - 8 foot seas. Harry knows his way around and took us on a great day of site-seeing (cool breakfast place and town - tequila factory - old hacienda). After visiting the tequila factory (not a bad idea) and then discovering that Harry's bike needed gas, we thought maybe we should have just poured in some tequila?

We weren't too sure what was in the jugs of "gas".

The Hacienda! Nice! A great place for lunch!

We ate breakfast at this place. Wow, it was nice!

Kickin' at Harry's place in Mazatlan was soooo' ____________ everything. I went kayaking with Harry and managed to fall out of the kayak.

Last dinner on the road. We rode the tollways from Mazatlan to Nogales on our way back to Tucson and stopped in Navajoa for the night.

I found this "fun" street taco stand and had a wonderful time. Great tacos!

Fifteen days, 2,800 miles, lots of tacos.
We Max'ed out the Ol' Fun Meter on this one.
Go for it!