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Ruined Adventures 02-14-2012 02:09 PM

ALSO Driving from to South America in an '87 4runner
We are Brenton and Shannon, a young couple experiencing a quarter-life crisis (for lack of a better explanation). No longer satisfied with Texas-life, we set a deadline to leave this place come hell or high water. With our careers on pause, now's the best time to seize the opportunity and travel until our heart's content...before kids and a mortgage get in the way. Once the road begins to wear on us, we will eventually relocate our lives to a new city.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7193/6...68b334ed6a.jpg http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7037/6...c76742e8ca.jpg

The beginning of our journey will take us through Central and South America...exploring exotic cultures, hunting for wild places, learning from our neighbors to the south, and discovering how we fit into this crazy world. We hope to sell our vehicle in South America, then fly over to South Africa where we will hunt for a kitted-out Hilux to continue along the eastern coast. We're not entirely sure what we'll do in Africa, but our dreams definitely don't end there...

Our vehicle for the first leg is a 1987 Toyota 4runner, which we have appropriately dubbed "The Border Runner". Powered by four cylinders and happy-thoughts, slow and steady will hopefully win the race in this steed. Here's a short video, showing the last-minute preparations and our final departure from Texas...find out more about our trip at Ruined Adventures

Ruined Adventures 03-17-2012 10:51 PM

Starting from where we left off...we may have taken a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque...



Then we had finally had it. The Last Straw...




Don't worry, we'll finally get caught up and then we'll have the interesting parts very soon :sombrero:

Corey 03-18-2012 02:24 AM

Looking forward to this trip of yours, subscribing.
Very nice to seize the opportunity to do this now.

FourwheelinVT 03-18-2012 03:43 AM

Sounds like a great plan! You should check out this if you haven't already read it.


It's about a similar trip, maybe you could contact them for advice/to share expiriences along the way!

2012MongolRally 03-18-2012 07:38 AM

Scribed. This looks like it will be a lot of fun; I'm looking forward to following your progress.

Ruined Adventures 03-18-2012 08:55 AM

Originally Posted by FourwheelinVT (Post 51888755)
Sounds like a great plan! You should check out this if you haven't already read it.


It's about a similar trip, maybe you could contact them for advice/to share expiriences along the way!

Thanks! We've actually met James & Lauren several times in the past year, we're hoping we will catch up with them at some point...if only they'd slow down!

Ruined Adventures 03-25-2012 09:24 PM

Brenton is usually the one writing the updates, and that's fine with me (Shannon), but I figure every now and then I'll throw in my two cents and let you know what I'm thinking about this epic adventure of ours.

Our drive down the Pacific Coast was beautiful. I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to which coast I find more appealing, I prefer the rocky west coast. I have never been much of a beach girl. Ask my mom, vacations "down the shore" in New Jersey consisted mostly of me crying because I couldn't stand the sand in my swim suit. I also prefer to go no further into the water than waist-deep. This might be one of the few things I don't have in common with my mom.

Driving down the coast of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, I enjoyed looking out into the water and watching the waves crash against the rocks in the distance. The rocky beaches also mean sand in your bathing suit is less likely.

Not that we would be going into THIS water anytime soon...BRRRR!

Stumbled on this gentlemen and his ladies, somewhere near the Redwoods

We spent each night of our westcoast drive camping in state or national parks. Our "no driving at night" rule wouldn't go in affect until Baja, so we often drove into the night before picking our spot to sleep. When we really needed showers, we'd pay a little extra to stay at the nearest KOA. Brenton says, "Look at how adventurous we are, going from KOA to KOA!"

Our timing was impeccable because we've had our pick of all the best campsites.


The Border Runner seemed even smaller while we passed thru Avenue of the Giants.

Our first stop was in Cardiff-by-the-sea, California to visit one of my good friends, Nicole. Nicole and I have known each other since high school, when we cheered together. She has always been one of my favorite people. She is sweet, kind, and soft spoken. You'd never guess she can bench press more than guys double her size. We stayed the night with her and her family, then enjoyed breakfast with them the next morning. It was a short but sweet visit.

We also met with some fellow Pan-Am veterans, Chris and Kristin of The Darien Plan. They did their trip back in 2009 and along with another couple, they started the website, Drive the Americas. It's a resource for people like us. It was great to chat with them over pizza and beers and ask them lots of questions.

Our final U.S. stop was at our friends Vicki and Pete's in San Diego. We stayed two nights here enjoying time with Vicki, Pete, and their cute little pugs, Pirate and Spider. We met Vicki and Pete at Overland Expo last year and have kept in touch with them since. They are just as excited about our trip as we are! They are planning an African adventure, set to depart in 5 years. We are so excited for them and can't wait for their big adventure. Unfortunately we were having so much fun with them, we completely forgot to take pictures of the four of us together! But we did get pics of their puppies, Spider and Pirate...guess which one's named Pirate.

Ruined Adventures 03-26-2012 08:24 AM

Finally, it was time to cross into Baja. We were crossing at the Tijuana border. I later read this is one of the busiest border crossings in the world. You don't say? As we approached the border we felt like cattle being herded into a pen. We were asked a few questions, the border agent peeked in our windows, and we were sent on our way. Since we crossed much later than we planned to, we were in a rush to get as far as possible from Tijuana. As a matter of fact we never actually stopped to get our tourist cards, instead we got caught up in the herd of cars headed towards the city center. Oops.

We were feeling intimidated to say the least and it took us about 15 minutes to find Mex 1D, the toll road to Ensenada. What were we going to do about the tourist cards?

We arrived at our first stop, El Rancho Faro (The Lighthouse Ranch). This was our first volunteering stint with the Muskoka Foundation. There was a little confusion on our part, as to what was going to be happening at El Rancho Faro, but things eventually got straightened out and we were able to spend about 4 days getting to know the people.

El Ranch Faro is an all girls orphanage in the beautiful wine country of Northern Baja. The orphanage is a new partnership for Muskoka, so Brenton and I were there to get to know the people and the area and get some insight into what Muskoka can do for them. Our favorite part of our visit came on our last night.


One of the ferocious guard dogs at the Ranch. This is Ocho, he enjoys barking all night while you try to sleep.

Our last night there, the director of the orphanage and her husband came to us insisting that we stay in their pop up camper. We were trying to explain to them that we were very comfortable and warm in our car and that they didn't need to go to the trouble. They clearly weren't buying it, so we told them to look for themselves. Apparently they were under the impression that we were sleeping in our reclined bucket seats this whole time. They were amazed that our set up wasn't your typical SUV. The kids gathered round and we spent a couple of hours giving them a tour of the truck and, at their request, showed them pictures on our laptop of the different places we have traveled to. Brenton and I just stood back and watched their faces light up with curiosity and amusement.

Here they are looking at our pictures from Overland Expo '11...you should've seen their faces while looking at some of the rigs. Suddenly ours had lost its lustre!

And those pesky tourist cards? On our last day at El Rancho Faro we got up early and drove to Tecate. After some reading, we figured this would be much easier. It's a much smaller and less crowded city and border crossing. Good choice. We found parking easily, just a block from the Migration Office and the entire process took no more than 15 minutes. We now have officially 180 days in Mexico, yay!


This little doll gave Shannon a bunch of free spanish lessons.


This little guy was a ton of amusement...once he finally warmed up to us.

We said our goodbyes to El Ranch Faro and headed south once again. We made our way to the town of Vicente Guerrero. We pulled up to our camp for the night, Posada Don Diego Resaturant/Bar/Trailer Park. We picked our spot and went in the restaurant to pay. After a quick glance at the menu, we decided we couldn't resist the temptation to have some good seafood. Shortly after we sat down, another couple sat at the table next to us and we chatted with them throughout our meal. Bruce and Lisa are from Canada. They had driven to La Paz and were making their way back north. They have been doing this trip for eight years so they had plenty of excellent recommendations for us as we head south. We told them our ultimate plan to drive to Tierra del Fuego and Bruce thought for a minute, then simply said, "every young couple should do that trip." We agree.


A typical view from MEX 1, anywhere in Central Baja.

The next morning we headed towards the town of Cataviña. On the the way we stopped in El Rosario to fill our gas tank and our two jerry cans. El Rosario is the last (reliable) place to fill up for almost 200 miles. Although we saw these entrepreneurs once we pulled into Cataviña. While we topped off our tank, it was hard not to grin...especially considering the extra dollar per liter these guys were charging.

Not long after passing through El Rosario, the landscape begins to change. There are all types of cacti: cirio (or boojum) trees, cardons, barrel cactus, chollas, and agaves. This area is known as the Sonoran Desert Vegetation Region and some of these species of cacti are only found here. As we got nearer to Cataviña we entered another impressive area known as the Catiñva boulder fields. This has been my favorite area so far. Huge boulders as far as the eye can see with these beautiful and unique cacti dispersed throughout. It was breathtaking. Just outside of Cataviña is El Marmol, an abandoned onyx mining area. We spent some time exploring among the chunks of onyx and hiking to an old mining entrance.


(Shannon was getting a little nervous driving here, but I was having a ball while pushing the limits.)


In case you've ever wondered what Onyx looks like.

Our next destination was Bahia de Los Angles (Bay of Angels). Up to this point in Baja, the weather had been mostly overcast, windy, and cold.


We were really hoping for some sunshine and warmth, and we weren't disappointed. As we approached the town, the skies opened and sun was shining. The Bay of Angles is beautiful. Our view to the west is a large rocky mountain range and our view to the east is the beautiful blue waters and the islands guarding the bay, the largest of which, Isla Angel de la Guarda, is 45 miles (75 km) long! The protection these islands offer gave me some reassurance our second day here when a local gringo told us that an earthquake had hit Acapulco and we didn't know yet if there would be a Tsunami as a result. What? A Tsunami? No one seemed overly alarmed but I watched the waters closely. I am happy to report, there was no Tsunami.

We don't know how long we'll be staying in Bahia de Los Angles, but this little oasis has kept our attention for several days now. We've been enjoying the company of our camp neighbors, talking with the locals, delicious seafood, perfect weather, and of course there's always the views. This is what it's all about.

Ruined Adventures 04-03-2012 11:42 AM

Shifting gears in Baja Sur

After 6 kilometers of slow paced driving across vast salt flats and hard-packed sand, corrugated roads, we finally reach Laguna Ojo de Liebre. We idle up to the kiosk and pay the security guard 65 pesos ($5 US dollars) for our entrance fee, as Shannon mutters something about "I guess things have changed here", noting that our Church's guide said the entrance fee was $3 dollars. I pull around and eyeball the sign that reads hot showers and grin at the idea. Reminding myself that "hot showers" can be loosely defined in Latin America. My last shower in Guerrero Negro was tepid at best, but at least it had some pressure to it. The showers in Bahia de Los Angeles were hot indeed, but a steady drip when the valve is fully open.

Laguna Ojo de Liebre is a well known sanctuary on the Pacific side of Baja Sur, where you can charter a panga, a tiny fishing vessel, to take you out and see some of the thousands of grey whales that call the Laguna home. We step inside to the beautiful new information center/restaurant and read about whale migration and interesting facts. The panga trip would cost $40 USD per person, although we could probably sneak Shannon in for the child's price at $34 dollars. We decided that we will have many more opportunities to see ballenas gris, or any other whales down the road. The further south we get the less gringo-prices we see, so we are optimistic that we will find a better deal.


The only Grey Whales we've seen so far.

We get back into the car and follow the dirt road that leads to the camping spots, while admiring the beautiful view that parallel each site. The lagoon is a beautiful emerald green near the shallow shore, which turns into a darker greenish blue in the distance. There are several mountains in the distance, but we are essentially in a desert surrounded by sagebrush inland and green flora towards the sea. We pass one empty palapa after another and finally spot a large tent under the sixth one from the restaurant. It appears no one is home and maybe they've been camping there for at least a week. We keep driving past at least a dozen more sites, all more empty and inviting than the first. We settle on a site that lays on the point, at the entrance to a narrow channel. We figure this will be our best position to spot a grey whale from the beach, since the spots along the channel are much closer to the shore. We may possibly be the only campers in this secure campground, and we have our pick of the litter. Considering there's no burning regulations, I forage for something to put in our fire ring, but being a desert I find mostly dead sagebrush and kindling, then I score on a broken sign post. This will come in handy when the sun sets and temperatures drop later in the evening.

We sit inside with the tailgate down to avoid the afternoon winds, reading in peace and hearing the occasional gull. We look up often from our "front porch" view of the waters behind us, hoping to catch a glimpse of las ballenas gris as they catch a breath, but we find nothing. We enjoy our dinner and admire the sunset, then light our fire as we feel the approaching cold. Our massive bonfire lasts for about five minutes, only 3 of which burn intensely enough to provide any warmth. Oh well it was worthwhile, if only for a moment.

After the last sliver of daylight is gone we close the doors and the windows to our casita and read some more. We stayed up a little late last night, catching up with family online and polishing off the equivalent of a 40 of Pacifico. Each morning I wake up at sunrise and admire the view for a while, then go back to sleep for another hour or two, gradually allowing the sun to wake me up…no alarm clocks here. We spend our time devouring some more books, reading about the road south of here, and planning our next move.

We've earned this perfect weather, after weeks of enduring the cold winds of el norte and the chilly nights in the mountains of Baja. While the sun burns intensely, the soft sand is a perfect 60 degrees and I find myself exploring with no shoes on. While soaking in the sun, our thoughts wander in the breeze. Occasionally I find myself thinking what my friends at work are up to at this very moment. No doubt some poor sap is ending his painful 12 hour shift on the Rescue truck, cheering for freedom while the sad reality hits that the rest of his day cannot be salvaged. Oh well, the overtime is nice…how else would we have funded this break? Meanwhile the rest of the guys on duty are probably already doing a massive pile of dishes, then cleaning the kitchen so they can quickly get to bed or spend a few hours glued to the recliners. I look over at our pile of dishes from dinner. One pot, one pan, two plates…so much more manageable then the pile that used to haunt me at home.

My worries have shifted from paying the utilities, to reserving a cabin on the ferry from La Paz. I ponder if I should've bartered with that soldadura who welded my license plate to our rear swingout, or if I should just appreciate the free crash course in Spanish engineering terms. I look under the dirty side of our little home, inspecting it for anything that needs to be fixed or addressed. Relajese, I tell myself. Relax, everything is going just fine for now.

Occasionally I look to the road we came in on, expecting to see some Mad Max-esque road bandits barreling our way with guns and medieval weapons, ready to lighten our load of all worldly possessions. Relajese…the boogey-man that everyone warned you about is a figment of every possible fear, personified into a scary mexican that forces them to lock their doors tight and peek over their fences.

It's a shame to witness the negative effect that the media has had on the tourism industry here. For the 24 hours that we're camped in this far-flung place, not a soul comes down the road and we enjoy the splendor of another uncrowded beach. So while you're wondering if it's safe to drink the water, we're chugging down every last drop while we can. Staking a claim on each little piece of paradise we find.

Ruined Adventures 04-21-2012 09:21 PM

San Ignacio, Baja Sur
After relaxing in Laguna Ojo de Liebre for a couple days we headed inland through Southern Baja. As the sun was quickly dropping beyond the horizon, we rounded a bend and approached the charming small town of San Ignacio. A welcome sight on a desolate drive, San Ignacio is a palm oasis that sprouts from a small valley in the desert. The arid, cactus-ridden terrain gives way to a plush green grove lined with date palms. As we wound our way past the spring-fed river we found ourselves in the center of town, greeted by a large central plaza surrounded by small shops and an 18th century Jesuit mission.


All of the nearby campsites were deserted and we were ready for some amenities, so we chose to camp on the edge of town at the Rice & Beans Hotel. Despite the cheesy name, Rice & Beans is a mostly respectable restaurant that has a large parking lot for RV camping and a hotel. At the restaurant we bumped into a few friends we met at Bahia de Los Angeles, Mike & Joann, and we had a nice dinner with them while exchanging details from our past week. The next day before leaving we bumped into a group who were driving a couple of really nice FJ-55's. I said hello and snapped a few photos. I chatted with the owners for a few minutes, mostly about where we're from and where we're going from here.


After leaving Rice & Beans we explored the central plaza some more, then we spent a couple hours admiring the Jesuit mission. This mission has a very interesting history, including the fact that it took over 35 years from start to finish. The Jesuits and local indians were often slowed down by disaster including but not limited to: deaths from malaria, typhoid, typhus, measles, indian rebellion, volcano eruption, drought, and several floods. Almost sounds like the Oregon Trail right? Only I doubt they blew all of their money and time hunting buffalo.



Even more impressive is the story about one of the devout and talented Indian workers who helped construct the mission. Although he couldn't see, Andrés Comanaji Sistiaga used his sense of touch and knowledge of construction to actually direct the work crews as they laid walls entirely out of lava rock. They called him "Andrés el Ciego or Andrés the Blind. Makes all of our accomplishments seem kinda bleak, right?



After checking out the mission and feeling inspired, we got in the car and started planning our next stop. Before we could even thumb open our atlas, we were surrounded by "Pigs"...no not porky pigs and not pigs with a badge. We were surrounded by the sweet Landcruisers that we spotted at Rice & Beans. In case you don't know, the 50-series Landcruisers are commonly referred to as pigs because their front end has a snouty look to it.


Now that they had randomly caught up to us, they asked us a few more questions about the road ahead. We don't always choose to tell people that we're headed for South America because usually people don't get it, but we could tell we really liked this fun bunch of retirees & trying-to-retirees. Apparently we peaked their interest and we started poking more at each other's vehicles and talking about "truck porn". Turns out Ruben (in the green/white LC) actually spends some time on Expedition Portal every now and then, which I kinda guessed by some of the sweet add-ons he's got.

Next thing we know, these guys are popping beers (it was around 1pm) and making us the best Bloody Mary's I've ever had, right here in the central plaza of this tiny pueblo. Locals were driving by with their eyes clearly not on the road, watching as a bunch of gringos party-down and show off their old Toyotas. Meanwhile the local Policia pulls up and we all act like junior-high schoolers, hiding our drinks and trying to act like everyday tourists.


An hour or two later we decided to hit the road and let them continue on their way, this time waving and grinning as we say goodbye to new friends from a chance meeting on the road. This is why we love Baja...easy to strike up a conversation and you can throw a party anytime, anywhere.

To Ruben & Andrea, John, Vicki, Jack & Vicki...thanks for the memories and thanks for the drink!

Corey 04-22-2012 02:06 AM

Nice pics, looks like you are having the time of your lives.

Hey, did you get my PM I sent you a few weeks back?

Ruined Adventures 04-22-2012 07:19 AM

Originally Posted by Corey (Post 51906452)
Nice pics, looks like you are having the time of your lives.

Hey, did you get my PM I sent you a few weeks back?

Doh! Sorry Corey, I'll round some pictures up ASAP and put them up there. Thanks for the reminder!

Ruined Adventures 04-23-2012 07:53 PM

Bay of Conception?
On our way to Mulegé, we passed thru Santa Rosalia which has a unique history. This place is very different from any other town you might see in Baja, thanks to a French company that built a copper mine in the 1800's. Many of the houses are covered with brightly colored clap-board siding, looking more like they belonged in the French Quarter than any part of Mexico. The old mining operation and several other historic buildings are supposedly constructed of wood imported from the Pacific Northwest. A less appealing sight is the "interesting" prefabbed church, designed by the same Gustave Eiffel who is famous for his tower in Paris, France. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures as we passed through.

Since my sister was supposed to be induced for labor that day, we decided we needed internet access to keep tabs on her situation. At Hotel Serinidad we started our interrogation with the front desk, asking about the availability of WiFi when we were greeted by the owner…the infamous Don Johnson. No not the same Don Johnson from Miami Vice or Nash Bridges, but I was still impressed by his friendly demeanor and hospitality.

"Did my sister have the baby or what???"

When we asked how much it would cost to just camp in our vehicle, without any RV hookups he asked "How much have you been paying to camp so far?" I responded with a range from $50-150 pesos per night, and he quickly matched our bottom price. We tried to find a regular parking spot out of the way, but he insisted that we park in one of the RV spots since they were empty. What a nice guy!

No one messes with Don Johnson's guests...no one!

The next morning after an AMAZING breakfast from the hotel restaurant, I was trying to find out the latest news on my sister when Shannon walked up frustrated and told me that we were being kicked out of our campsite. "What? It's not even close to noon yet!" Apparently a sizable caravan had arrived and the leader had reserved most of the sites surrounding us, including ours. Even in this nice campground outside of town, this guy felt that it was absolutely necessary for the safety of his herd to be unseparated. The caravan leader was less than tactful about the situation, but we kept our cool and remained friendly about his requests for us to vacate. No worries, we were planning on leaving soon anyway…although I was still unsure about my sister's baby!

Huevos de Caballo = awesome breakfast

After Mulegé, MEX-1 meets the Sea of Cortez at Bahia Concepcion, which literally translates to Conception Bay. After seeing the water, this actually made sense because here we found some of the most beautiful beaches in Baja...very motivating if you know what I mean. Don't worry, even with the romantic scenery and inspiring name we managed to resist the temptation...no surprises coming up in our Ruined Adventures family.

With Semana Santa (Holy Week) quickly approaching, we were in somewhat of a predicament because we had to decide where we would wait out the chaos. Beginning on the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday), Semana Santa is a very important religious holiday in Mexico and most of Latin America. Not only are there grand celebrations for the occasion, but this is also when the majority of Mexicans get 1-2 weeks off of school or work. This can be a great time to witness unique celebrations in San Miguel de Allende or Patzcuaro (both on mainland Mexico), but in places like Baja it's best to avoid the beaches during Semana Santa. After a year of hard work, you better believe that most Mexicans will haul butt for the beaches to party all week, crammed in like sardines along the water. With little bathroom or trash facilities on these beaches, you can only imagine what happens with such a large crowd.

We've heard stories of gringos waking up to find their lone campsite on the beach has been completely surrounded with overcrowded hordes of locals, so tightly bunched together that they'll secure tents to your stakes and tie tarps to your guylines. We met one fella towing a camper who said that he had people making a shelter under the tongue of his trailer! He said everyone there had their own stereos, blaring music loud enough to drown out the neighbors and resulting in a deafening blend of sound. One could argue that this would be the perfect opportunity to interact with the locals, but I prefer uncrowded campsites with wide open spaces and a little more quiet. Feel free to call us snobs. The beaches during Semana Santa are often compared to Spring Break in South Padre Island or Daytona Beach, and we're honestly a little old (and boring) for that kind of debauchery.

With only a couple days left, we decided to get our fill of beachside camping at Playa Santispac and then head inland before the madness would begin. The water was amazingly clear and we managed to find a palapa with plenty of shade to tie up our hammock and catch up on some reading. We were about 100 yards from our only neighbor and a short walk from a restaurant where we could indulge on fish tacos and Pacifico balleñas.

Our time at Playa Santispac was mostly uneventful and very relaxing, at least until a seagull decided to steal our ziploc full of sponges. Apparently he figured Scotch-brite sponges would make a good meal, but without hot sauce to give it that "kick" he eventually gave it up, leaving it afloat. Thanks seagull, for giving me an excuse to get wet!

Ruined Adventures 04-28-2012 09:51 AM

Gettin' Raw On Baja
After getting our fix of sand and sun, we decided our best bet for avoiding the Semana Santa crowds was to stay away from the beaches. We'd heard really good things about Loreto and it sounded right up our alley. Even though it's a city on the water, it would be easy to distract ourselves in town.

While trying to find a place to camp we got lost for a minute, but eventually we found a good spot close to all the action. Once I had the BorderRunner tucked into some shade I busted out the laptop to see what I could find out about my sister. Internet...dead. Oh well that's Mexico for you...

Searching for dinner, we walked a couple blocks and saw this setup straight out of a horror movie...looks like they were making homemade pork rinds? Eventually we found a stand with a little sign that read "mariscos". I was sold. Me being a sucker for clams, I shrilled like a little girl when I saw almejas on the menu. Well, this was our first big menu misunderstanding of the trip...

While "almejas fresca" obviously meant fresh clams, I ASSumed that they would be steamed. That's the only way to prepare clams, right? I couldn't have been more wrong. They arrived raw, and we laughed for a minute over the misunderstanding. "No biggie", I've had raw oysters before.

Before I dig in, Shannon is shrieking in horror. As she squirted lime on the clam she noticed that the clam actually did the hokey pokie in protest. We tried a few more times, just to make sure we were on PETA's radar. Sure thing, these suckers were ALIVE and not happy. Our waiters watched and laughed at the silly gringos for a minute, then they gave us a crash course on eating LIVE clams, Mexican style.

First you squirt lime in the clam's eyeballs, then you throw some soy sauce on there to confuse the little guy (are we in Japan?), then add a little picante sauce and lime in case the lime didn't piss off the clam enough. I really didn't like the flavor, but I can fake anything fairly well (how do you think I became a firefighter?)...so I painfully choked down my share with a smile. Unfortunately Shannon isn't as good at faking (or so she claims), so I end up having to eat most of her share too. Thanks honey.

Eventually we made up for the live clam experience and ordered something right for a change. Later that week we had a fisherman come up to our campsite selling fresh lobster. 100 pesos later I had two plump lobster tails and we were ready for some langosta! I've never cooked lobster before but I didn't let that stop me. I figured I can't screw up as long as I use two sticks of butter, right?

Aside from stuffing our faces, we finally managed to get the interwebs to work again...we were happy to hear that my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! Eventually we caught the happy family on Skype and it was great to see the little guy on camera.

Loreto was a great place to spend Semana Santa. We were expecting to see tons of foreigners come into town that week, escaping the beaches, but it was mostly quiet around our campsite. Luckily there was a real friendly group of "locals" to keep us company.

Ruined Adventures 05-24-2012 01:04 PM

Heading to the Mainland
Maybe it'll be my job (Shannon) to bring the audience up to speed when we've had a lack of blog writing. It's been a while so I'll have to thumb through some pictures and journal entries to remember it all.

Fellow travelers mentioned that when you're on a trip like this, time really slows down. Sure, I thought, I can see that. You're moving at a slower pace, not paying attention to that almighty clock that everyone is chasing. Well, I had no idea just how much time would slow down.

I keep a handwritten journal that I write in almost every night. For some reason I was looking back at my old entries. I read something about the couple of days we spent in La Paz, BCS, and then I looked at the date. In my head these days spent in La Paz had surely happened a few weeks ago maybe even a full month ago, but no. Six days! That's how long ago it had been. I said to Brenton, "Hey, do you realize it was only six days ago that we were in La Paz?" He didn't believe me either. I had to retrace our step even further back to prove I hadn't just written the wrong date.

So does time slow down? More than I ever imagined. It made me think a lot about how we live our lives. I'm not trying to get too deep here, but think about it. How many times have you thought to yourself, Man, I can't believe another year has passed by. Where did the time go? I know for me each year always seems to go by faster.

What if we could all slow down? Maybe it's not possible to live every day in this way, but what if we took more time, longer periods of time, to just slow down? If even a fraction of my life I was able to live in the way we are now, shoot even if it's just this trip (though I don't think this will be the last) I would be so much more satisfied with my time on this earth. In the end, I don't think I would feel that life passed too quickly, that I didn't do the things I really wanted to do. How great would that be? I am so happy to have the opportunity to have these experiences.

Now, on to what's been going on with Ruined Adventures. After Gettin' Raw in Loreto we headed off to La Paz. We only stayed in La Paz for the night to check on the ferry situation. This would be where we ship from Baja to Mexico's mainland. Unfortunately, the ferry offices were closed the day we went so onward we moved to Todos Santos and Pescadero.

One of the many tourist attractions that has capitalized on the famous song.

Todos Santos was a total gringo town, and not really my cup of tea, even though it was a nice place. I know some people love it, but it was pricey and you couldn't get someone to speak Spanish to you, even if you paid them. Pescadero was in the start of Reggae Fest Baja so beach camping was out of the question. Apparently they had the whole beach reserved for the event. We considered parking in a nearby parking lot since the reggae was relaxing, but then they started playing some horrible hip-hop so we were on our way. Luckily a local pointed us in the direction of a really nice surf camp off the beach and we stayed there for the night.

My good friends Michael & Jaime hooked us up with their friends Mac & Kate who live outside of La Paz in El Sargento. We stayed with them for two nights in their beautiful home. Both nights we were spoiled with delicious, fresh, homemade dinners. We really enjoyed Mac, Kate, their neighbor Steve and their cute pup, Paco.

After two relaxing days in El Sargento we headed back to La Paz to give the ferry a second shot. Being it was the end of Semana Santa, we were worried the ferries service would be backed-up and trying to recover. We were afraid we'd end up having to stay in La Paz for another couple of weeks just waiting for our ride to the mainland. Well, we got lucky. We arrived at the terminal ferry around 11:30am and we soon had tickets for the ferry departing at 4pm that same day.

Since we had traveled through Baja, this is where we would take care of importing our vehicle and paying for our tourist visas. We chose to ride on TMC Ferry so that we could have access the our vehicle during the trip. The ferry actually departed at 5:10pm and we were on our way to Mazatlan, a 14 hour journey.

For more Baja Sur pictures, click here: Baja Sur

Luvmeye22re 05-25-2012 07:35 PM

All I can say is WOW! Good idea and great pics. Looks like you're having a blast. :safari:

simpleman703 06-01-2012 04:31 PM

you guys have the drive for living life and thats awsome. i stumbled across your thread and just started reading and read the intirer thing cant wait for some more updates.

by the way how is the yoda holding up and how many miles have you traveled on your adventure so far

be safe and have fun

porcelain 06-04-2012 08:36 AM

Awesome.... Can't wait to see more.

Ruined Adventures 06-04-2012 11:55 AM

Originally Posted by simpleman703 (Post 51925078)
you guys have the drive for living life and thats awsome. i stumbled across your thread and just started reading and read the intirer thing cant wait for some more updates.

by the way how is the yoda holding up and how many miles have you traveled on your adventure so far

be safe and have fun

Since we left Texas, we've driven around 7500 miles. With our slightly larger tires and factory gear ratio, that number is slightly off of course. We're honestly not far from Texas, but we've certainly taken the long way to get here by going up to Washington first then down through Baja.

The 4runner is holding up great. The only work I've done so far on it is preventative maintenance and chasing phantom road noises (our shovel taps the roof and I swear it sounds like front end popping).

The engine has been running a little poorly and it recently threw some engine codes so I have a little investigative work to do, nothing serious.

Ruined Adventures 06-04-2012 11:57 AM

First Taste of the Mainland
Our ferry arrived in Mazatlan early the next morning and we spent about half a day exploring the city before heading south to San Blas, Nayarit. It was nice to finally make it to mainland Mexico and switch from desert to lush coastline.

San Blas was one of Brenton's favorite places from when he and his sister backpacked Mexico in 2004 and he really wanted to bring me there to share in some of his nostalgia.

San Blas is known for it's laid-back demeanor and easy surf break for beginners. We were greeted by "Pompis" Cano, the national longboard surf campion who owns Stoner's Surf Camp and offers private lessons and we quickly settled in.

We spent several days in San Blas, jogging on the beach, riding bicycles through town, and hanging out in the plaza at night. We also met Diana and Stephane, a very nice couple on vacation. Diana is from Monterrey and Stephane is from France, though he is currently living in Monterrey too. We spent time with them and a friendly group of mexican bikers on the beach. It was great Spanish practice for a while, as we explained our route to the bikers...until their drunk buddies pulled up and drove their Harleys up THROUGH the restaurant and onto the beach, getting stuck in the sand and blaring "Hot For Teacher" while the old caretaker was trying to sleep. It was bizarre for a second but our new friends managed to shoo them away. The next night the four of us had dinner and drinks together (no rowdy bikers in attendance).

Next we moved on to Tepic where we explored for half a day before heading to Jalisco and settling down at Laguna Santa Maria del Oro for a couple of nights. For me, it was a breath of fresh air. Finally, we were surrounded by grass, big green trees, and mountains. Laguna Santa Maria del Oro is actually an old volcanic crater that is now filled with water. It's incredibly beautiful and our campground was right on the water's edge. Our second night there we were treated to a live mariachi band while overlooking the lake. Each night we entertained ourselves by watching the industrious ant colonies that surrounded our camp, and playing cards. It really doesn't get much better than that. We left the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for some Tequila.

We got to the small town of Tequila just a little too late for a tour at Jose Cuervo, but not to worry, we just happened to arrive on the 482nd Anniversario de la Fundacion de la Villa de Santiago de Tequila, and Tequila know's how to party. The plaza was filled with vendors, musicians, carnival rides, and fireworks. We enjoyed some delicious margaritas, micheladas, and pastor tacos while taking in the celebration. We slept in a locked parking lot that night and the next morning, rather than waiting till late afternoon for a Jose Cuervo tour in English, we headed to Casa Herradura in the next town of Amatitan. I had read that though this operation is slightly smaller than Jose Cuervo, the grounds themselves are much more beautiful. We were happy with our decision. We got an English tour just ten minutes after we arrived with a small group of seven. The distillery was beautiful and at the end we all sampled tequila together, my personal favorite being the "plata", although Brenton had to finish most of the tequila for me.

Our next destination was Guanajuato. Another place that had been a favorite of Brenton and his sister's on their previous trip. It didn't take me long to see why. It's hard to explain other than the city just has a feel about it and an attraction. It's a small town with lots of history and plenty to see and do. We camped the first night on the panoramica then explored around town until we found a hotel with hot water at a decent price. Since we already knew we wanted to spend some time here, we arranged to stay for a full week at Hostel Cantarranas in the Centro Historico. This would be our first time staying in a hotel on this trip. The couple of campgrounds in the area are all outside of town and we wanted to be close to the action. Guanajuato is full of steep, narrow & winding alleys and each one is different from the next. The architecture is beautiful and colorful and the city never seems to sleep. We made two hikes up to the statue of Pipila, one for sunset and one for sunrise. The view was breathtaking.

After Guanajuato, we headed to San Miguel de Allende where we paid way too much to camp for two nights. We can't complain (too much) though, we met some really nice overlanders from Germany and Belgium. Joachim & Barbel have been camped out in San Miguel for three years! They are a very nice couple, and they gave us some great information and campground GPS coordinates for our drive south. Bernard & Alexandra are traveling with their three young girls, ages ten, five, & three in a 2002 Land Rover Defender. We spent a night exchanging stories and information with Bernard & Alexandra.

The architecture in San Miguel is similar to that of Guanajuato but more monochromatic and minus the steep hills. San Miguel in general is a pricey area and is filled with retired North-Americans and European ex-pats. The city is incredibly clean and the plazas are beautiful and well kept. For our third and last night in SM, we ninja camped near the plaza principal and the next morning headed to the incredible church of Antotonilco.

The Santuario de Atotonilco is an amazing church just outside of San Miguel de Allende. Pilgrimage to Atotonilco is a goal of many Mexicans as it has a significant role in Mexico's independence and is viewed as a very important sanctuary. The walls inside the church are covered with beautiful murals and different stories from the Bible. Only a visit would do it justice, but it is worth a mention and a couple of pictures. From here we made our way to Dolores Hidalgo.

Dolores Hidalgo is a small town with a nice plaza, beautiful pottery, and some interesting hand spun ice cream flavors. One of our first stops was at one of the many ice cream vendors in the plaza. We were given samples of every flavor they made. Some were great, some I don't know why they ever thought it'd be a good idea to turn it into ice cream. Brenton tried all of the bizarre ones, including the shrimp flavored ice cream. I couldn't bring myself to try the shrimp; avocado and beer were adventurous enough for me! As we were strolling around the plaza that night, out of no where all of the lights in the plaza and the church went out. We thought they must have had some sort of power outage; and then the loud music began to play. On the entire face of the church they began to show pictures telling the story of the town's past and it's role in the fight for independence. It was a really neat experience that we happened to randomly stumble upon.

Next stop, Guanajuato round two.

For more pictures from Mazatlan to Santa Maria del Oro, click here: Mazatlan to Santa Maria del Oro
For more pictures from Tequila to Guanajuato, click here: Tequila to Guanajuato

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