It seems fitting to call this the last leg of the journey, but mainly because there is a need in our minds to mark time in phases. In actuality I still don’t have a permanent home (I’ve got no place to even call my home base) and I still have my possessions squirreled away in friend’s garages or sheds. Also, marking the beginning of this adventure as leaving for Mexico is also a misnomer, because I was roaming around with no permanent home for more than a year before that.
Still, in deference to our need to have “chapters” in our lives, selling the house and buying this motorcycle was a declaration to myself that I was going to commit to life on the road for an unknown period of time. I started that process by outfitting my 2017 Indian Chieftain for long haul touring, which was generally easy since the bike is built for that purpose to begin with. Since I was going to live off it though I knew a trailer would actually make things easier.
For Mexico though it is an encumbrance, since insurance down there works differently. So when I first headed down the Baja Peninsula in May, 2022 I did it with some bags strapped to the back seat. Now I was heading back so my friends who live down there could take a vacation of their own. I broke the trip down into two parts so the border crossing would be easier, taking an overnight in Blythe, CA, which sounds like “blight” and generally looks like one.
It still gave me a place to rest after crosswinds blew up a dustbowl and really wore me out.
In the late morning I continued south to the crossing in Calexico, and actually got stopped by Mexican Customs officials. It’s very rare for motorcycles to be stopped entering or leaving Mexico, but such was my luck. Fortunately they didn’t bother with sending me through secondary inspection where 3-5 customs agents pulled apart the contents of mid-size trucks or anyone with an enclosed trailer (another reason to leave it behind).
The smiling young female customs officer seemed to enjoy my attempts at Spanish, which is broken at best, and after poking around in my dirty laundry I was on my way. Since there’s only one highway down to San Felipe I was retracing my route from before and was shocked at how much faster it was. The first time down I was looking at every single thing on the roadway, similar to the way I had convoyed through Iraq, doing a constant threat assessment.
It’s a lot easier to pack for two weeks than six months.
Now I knew the way and actually planned to stop at one of the many roadside taco stands but found myself out in the open desert so fast I just had to carry on. San Felipe came up quick enough and I picked a Taco stand to fill up on real-deal tacos and have a beer to ward off the heat. I felt officially back now.
After gassing up I made it the final leg down to the South Campos area where my friends Wilder and Aleks have their casa. They had gotten a decent amount of work done in the months I was gone, though it’s as much about amassing money for the next project as it is actually finding time for it. The one thing I remembered about my last time down there was– no matter how much it looked like a lazy life on the beach– there was always a project to be done.
If there wasn’t a home project happening then salt air was rusting something, sand needed shoveled or swept, or the wind was trying to rip something down. In a way that’s good, since monotony can set in when life gets too serene and peaceful. On the other hand, I’m sure Wilder and Aleks were going to enjoy some time back in San Francisco, not worrying about picking up water or chasing scorpions out of the house.
The rewards of life lived on the beach ain’t too bad on the balance of things.
For me though, I had a small tribe of animals to keep me busy (and plenty of sand to sweep). I started outlining a book about my travels as well, so work was done, but I also spent a fair portion of time sitting on a dune, looking out at the Gulf of California, sipping a drink, and thinking about all I’d seen in the last six months.
I had been in cold, forested mountains passing waterfalls in the fog. I’d slept lakeside in near-empty campgrounds. I’d ridden through fields of corn, sorghum, wheat, and tobacco. I’d visited friends I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I’d seen the flat plains and the Rocky Mountains and the open deserts of the Southwest. I used wifi and had a panini in a Mennonite café. Temperatures ranged from about 40°F to at least 118°F, and I had gone from below sea-level to more than 12,000ft. As much as I want to see more of the world, it’s hard to match the vast diversity of terrain in the United States. Even the culture changes noticeably, even though most of us speak the same language. It’s a unique country, in a unique time.
For all that though, I was happy to be where a taco was $1.75. I could actually get them for $2.00 back in California mind you, so it isn’t as cheap as one thinks when you head down to Baja, but it’s hard to find a tortilla as fresh as they make ’em down south.
As much time as I had down there to contemplate, I didn’t run across any epiphany. I played fetch with the dogs and pet the cats, watered plants, and got invited to dinner by friends up and down the beach. It was certainly a good way to spend ten days, but I could tell there was something my brain was looking for; there was supposed to be something to wrap this up.
But that’s the thing about viewing life in chapters… life doesn’t work that way. Certainly things can be seen as an era and can even be delineated by specific actions we take, but we don’t create the page breaks. Sometimes we only know in hindsight, and months after “ending” my trip there simply isn’t a new chapter. I’ve got new plans for a new trip and even bought another motorcycle so I can travel lighter and more into remote areas.
It may sound like the next chapter but it is still the same search for “something.” Travel for me right now is about moving away from things and not towards them, which is a recipe for stasis. Wherever you go, there you are. I’m fortunate in the sense that I know it so I don’t blame the universe for things. It’s more painful to blame ourselves and sometimes it’s the wrong thing to do, but if you can find the parts of life that you are responsible for, you also find the parts of life you can control.
You can’t pick the wind or the current, but you can adjust your sails and search for currents that benefit you. Right now I am a man without a people. There are friends and family all over the US that welcomed me on this trip and plenty of them are looking forward to me coming back, but having friends is not the same as having community. The road may not be the best place to find community, but you also never know where the road will take you.
Well, if I’m plotting the course, it’s going to eventually lead to tacos.
2 thoughts on “Coming Full Circle: an end of one adventure”
the only way I can chop my life up into chapters is looking back at it. Planning anything further off than my next meal is, even in retirement, not much more than a wish on a star. So, I learned to roll with it. Not without being very annoyed by the rolling.
I think the trick is to keep my head up and try to look out of the rocks. Well, and the deep sand. Man, I hate deep sand.
Where was I?
Oh, good stuff. Cheap tacos are hard to find in tis tourist town, but there is a place in Old Town that have $2 tacos on Tuesdays. They are not great. The great ones cost a good deal more. But, are a treat one in a while.
I’m looking forward to this next bit of the story.
For both of us.
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Yes well said. I find that as my brain tries to delineate beginnings and endings that it’s a fruitless endeavor. Having to write about it is different, as telling the story of your life and living that story are not the same. I can find chapter breaks when writing, but in life things happen, then other things happen. We live, we laugh, we learn.
And yes probably the only thing I miss about Victorville (aside from the sunrises and sunsets) is the proliferation of taco stands. Tacos were always fantastic and would cost $2 at the pop ups and $3 at the trucks with actual health board certifications. Fresh salsas, 10 different meats to choose from, a side of roasted jalapeño, all in walking distance. And the frescas, or champurado on the cold nights. Damn I want tacos now, and I’m only a 25min drive to the border. Wait, where was I?
Yes the next bit of the story is interesting, but my overriding question carries over into it. How do I find a sense of community again while being such a nomad? It feels good to know you belong on the Earth, no matter where you go, but it still feels like something major is missing when you float from place to place.