Friday, November 30, 2012


Well, my first night spent in Texas and it's already living up to its reputation. I was camped out on BLM land just east of El Paso, a little ways back from the main highway. It seemed like a pretty good campsite, where I wouldn't hear the traffic as much, and where I wouldn't be bothered by anyone since it was public land.

Instead, about an hour after dark I woke up to several ATVs revving their engines, and then spent the next several hours listening to pretty continuous gunfire. I'm pretty sure they were't hunters, since it was well after dark, and they were firing off entire clips in a matter of seconds. I don't know how you can aim 12 shots in a matter of 15 or 20 seconds, but they didn't seem to care. Also, I don't know what they were firing at, since it was way to dark to actually see any targets, but they seemed boisterous and happy.

I guess that's what I get for camping to close to a major city in Texas on a Friday night.

Falling apart

My bike is finally starting to fall apart. I now have slimed both of my tires, since even the thorn proof tire was going flat. The slime seems to be holding up though.

Also, the tire that I bought back near Capitol Reef has several cuts going straight through the actual tire. Not sure what could have caused that, other than a knife or something, but it is bad news. The actual tread  is still relatively fine though, so I'm planning on using the tire for a bit longer. So far it has almost 3000 miles on it. Not bad for a $27 tire.

The worst part happened today after I did some grocery shopping. My kick stand completely disintegrated. It wasn't just that it came apart, but that the metal actually snapped. To be fair, I did just throw a weeks worth of groceries on the rear wheel, but I wasn't expecting the kickstand, of all things, to break next.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


How to make money from cops:

I was riding along the shoulder of I-10 in New Mexico when a cop pulled over in front of me. Since he didn't have his lights going I checked behind me to make sure no trucks were coming, and then just went around him. As I was going by he yelled for me to pull over, so I did, figuring he just wanted to make sure I was ok.

Instead, he started questioning me about what I was doing, where I was going, etc, so I explained the basis of my trip. After talking for a bit he told me that I wasn't allowed to ride on the interstate, and he would have to give me a ticket. Now the rules differ by state, some allow you to ride interstates only if there isn't a similar parallel route, others allow it as long as there isn't heavy traffic, etc. I wasn't sure of the NM rules, but I knew that all the on-ramps had signs saying that pedestrians and motor driven cycles aren't allowed, but that bicycles should use shoulder only.

Knowing this I told him I was pretty sure I was allowed to be there, and could show him signs proving that. He was pretty skeptical, so I ended up making a bet with him, unofficially of course. If I could prove that I was allowed to be there, he would pay me the fine for the ticket he had tried to give me. If I couldn't immediately prove that I was allowed to be there, I would have to take the ticket and pay the fine. Fair enough by me.

I ended up locking my bike to itself with the rear wheel locked up, then jumping in the back of the police car. We took a U-turn on the interstate and went back to the last exit/on-ramp to see if there was any signage. Sure enough, there was one of the little "bicycles use should only" signs. The cop was pretty surprised, and said he was going to look into the relevant laws later, but drove me back to my bike and paid for the bet. Not a bad way to make a few bucks, although it was pretty stressful to deal with any kind of cop in that situation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I didn't even think about today being Thanksgiving until yesterday, when I heard some people talking about the holidays. I wasn't really hoping for much, since I didn't have anything really set up through warmshowers for a place to stay, so I was probably going to be on the side of the road camped out somewhere.

Until JB stopped me on the side of the road. It was getting a bit late, almost sunset, and he wanted to know if I had anywhere to go or someone to celebrate with. I told him I didn't, and ended up going back to his house, which I had pretty much just passed. JB didn't have anything really planned, and he would have been spending the holiday alone as well, so it worked out nicely for both of us. 

He ended up getting a prepared takeout meal from somewhere in town, and we talked for quite a while about a lot of outdoors type stuff. He works as a landscaper, but is really a naturalist at heart, and spends quite a bit of time outdoors. All in all, a good way to spend the holiday.

Saguaro National Park

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting for Saguaro National Park, but this wasn't really it. I visited the eastern portion of Saguaro National Park, which is right on the border of Tuscon, AZ. Essentially this visit consisted of an 8 mile loop road that went through a bunch of desert terrain. It was pretty cool to be zooming downhill past a bunch of really sharp plants on either side.

The actual "saguaro" forest has been coming and going since the creation of the park. Apparently a variety of environmental factors have caused a lot of them to die off, creating much less of a forest appearance. Then, restrictions on grazing rights in the park have caused an increase in the number of new saguaro plants growing, so we'll have to wait and see if the forest can recover.

See the pictures:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


While I was heading down I-10 from Phoenix to Tuscon I saw a billboard advertising "Biosphere2." I remembered from a while back about the project, and decided to go see it, even though it was probably at least a day out of the way for me.

The original bioshpere2 project was a study in closed environments. They originally had 8 people sealed in the dome for 2 years, studying the environment and conducting experiments. The next group only lasted a couple of months before they closed it down. The problem was that most of the time was spent gathering food, rather than conducting experiments.

The end result is that the biosphere2 project was opened up, and used as a giant ecosystem laboratory. They also have turned it into a giant tourism place, with tours going out every 20 minutes or so into the biosphere, showing off the old exhibits as well as the current research. It was pretty interesting to see the entire building as one giant greenhouse, as well as the efforts that went into controlling the ecosystem and creation of the weather.

See the pictures here:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chance encounters

Since I was basically in the middle of San Diego, I decided to stay in a hostel in the area, rather than trying to find an out of the way spot to camp for the night. I ended up at Banana Bungalow Hostel, right on the coast, with nice beach right out the front door.

It was pretty much a standard hostel from my experience, but the coolest part was in the morning as I was about to leave. As I was heading out the door another guy was coming in the door. As he passed by I thought his backpack looked familiar, so I called out to him. It turns out that he was the same guy that I met in Tehachapi, CA, who was hiking the PCT going southbound. We stopped and talked for a bit about what had transpired since we met, and how our trips were going. He had finished up the PCT by Campo, and was taking some time off at the hostel in San Diego to cool off. He also had some plans to buy a boat at one of the marinas, so that could be interesting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Los Angeles whirlwind

I spent the day touring Los Angeles. Fortunately I was traveling by rail, after leaving my bike at a warmshowers host in Long Beach. Much easier way of traveling, I must say. It was a very brief overview of the city, since I only had a day, but I packed a lot into that day, starting at Union Station.



One of the rail stations, I forget which one, had a bunch of flying people in it. No idea why, but that seemed to be the decoration theme for the area


A few other highlights:

...some nice fountains in the Grand Park area

...and the Space Shuttle Endeavor

... and ending the day at Watts Towers, a huge pile of artistic scraps

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sails and Seals

After a couple of dreary days on the coast the weather has drastically improved. Clear skies, sunny, and no wind. Also, the terrain has leveled out, so I am one happy camper/biker.

With the change in weather I have seen more people out and about, including kite surfers, something I had always wanted to try. Basically surfing, but you have a giant kite that pulls you along.

I also stopped by a small cove, which looked like it had a bunch of bags washed up on the shore. It turned out they were all elephant seals. A lot of them looked pretty dead, but a few were moving around the shores and a bit more active.


I ended the day by Morro Bay, which has a giant rock sticking up out of it. I had set up a warmshowers host, which worked out quite nicely. Lately I have been having much better luck with warmshowers than I did in the beginning. It might be that I have a few more miles under my belt, which makes me seem much more like a biker than when I first started


Dreary, Hilly Coast

So far I have been on the Pacific Coast for two days, and haven't really seen the sun at all. Its been pretty foggy and overcast. While I can see the road ahead for a few miles, it is not very picturesque. To top things off, this area of the coast is pretty hilly, so I am always climbing. The Big Sur area is supposed to be one of the best parts of the Pacific Coast route, and I can definitely understand why, but unfortunately I haven't really seen it for myself.

There was one really nice spot, which I was glad that I took the time to get off the bike and see. There was a state park along the beach that had a pretty good size waterfall off of a cliff right onto the sandy beach along a little cove.