NorCal to Baja honeymoon road trip part 1

Baja sunset

My husband and I both love gritty travel. In fact, our “third date” was a long-weekend road trip in his van. So, when we started thinking about what to do for our honeymoon, driving all the way down to Baja from our home in Northern California only made sense.

I had read somewhere that the concept of a honeymoon stemmed from a medieval custom. The community would supply newlyweds with enough mead (honey wine) to last a moon cycle (about a month).

Now, I’m far from traditional, but after learning this fun fact I quickly became obsessed with planning my honeymoon around… the moon.

I figured we’d just drink tequila instead of mead.

We should’ve called it a cactusmoon!

Getting to the border

With such a long trip, I thought it’d be easier to write a series of shorter posts. This first section takes you from NorCal to just south of the Mexican border.

Highlights include:

  • Car trouble
  • Glorious sunsets
  • One very (!!!) important thing we forgot to do at the border

What we packed and what we missed

We left Dunsmuir right after the new moon in November. We’d done quite a bit of research on Baja road trips and thought we had some idea of what to expect.

My parents hooked us up with their timeshare at a resort in San Jose del Cabo and we planned to camp in the Sprinter most other nights.

We stocked up on what we thought were the essentials:

  • About 10 gallons of water (which lasted from the border until we got to the resort)
  • Camp chairs with little umbrellas (we never used the umbrellas)
  • Snorkel gear (which broke in the water – don’t buy snorkel gear at Walmart)  
  • A Baja camping guide book borrowed from a friend, which turned out to be very helpful

What I wish we had brought was:

  • A month’s supply of Northbound coffee from Mount Shasta
  • Approximately an equal amount of IPA
  • More than one spare tire to fit the Sprinter
  • A tourist visa
  • The dogs (we missed our pups so much, we came back with a Mexican one!)

Our trip started out on a funny foot. As we drove south, we saw the very beginnings of the Camp fire, which turned out to be the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history!

Camp Fire photo from flickr by Stuart Rankin

I remember trying to drive beneath the dark cloud of smoke. I was so anxious, I had to ask Jason to take over!

(He would end up driving for at least 90% of the entire trip. Bless him.)

Our first bout of car trouble

Shortly after clearing the Camp fire, we stopped for diesel in Stockton.

It was almost dark by that time, so we talked about how much farther we might want to go before finding a place to sleep. As it happens, the van wanted to sleep right there.

She wouldn’t turn on.

Dead as a doornail.

Jason either jiggled some wires or got a jump to get the engine going again, but we clearly had a problem.

It was too late to do anything about it then, so we spent the night at a truck stop in Stockton. Then, we spent the entire next morning in the Autozone parking lot, where Jason figured out how to replace the alternator by watching Russian Youtube videos.

My hero

Sprinter alternator repair
He accidentally parked too close to the curb and then couldn’t move the dead van!

Since we lost half a day to the Sprinter repair, we only made it as far as Bakersfield for our next stop. This truck stop was much nicer and warmer.

We did kettlebell workouts in the parking lot and then shared a truck stop shower.

Before you judge, I just want to say that truck stop showers are 100% worth the $12 or whatever they charge. I’ve yet to use one that isn’t spotlessly clean and pleasant!

Crossing the border

After Bakersfield, we swung by Whole Paycheck to stock up on American food before making the final push for the border.

I’m proud to report that I drove through LA during rush hour traffic without having a complete meltdown!

However, I was nervous about driving an enormous van through the traffic at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border. We weren’t sure what to expect, but agreed we weren’t expecting it to be that easy.

We forgot something very important

Crossing from the United States into Mexico is a breeze. The “officials” (or whoever we talked to) basically waved us through and told us to enjoy our trip.

No one told us we needed to get tourist visas at the immigration center.

(To be fair, the blogs and books we read did include this information, but they also said no one ever bothered to check visas there.)

So, we ended up crossing illegally without the proper documents.

Later, we paid for it with a hefty fine.

When I say fine, I mean the standard fine + a 100% bonus for the officers themselves.

I’ll explain more about our near-detainment when we get to that point in the story!

Bottom line is: make sure you get your tourist visa just in case there’s an immigrant caravan or some other situation that creates heightened drama at the border. You never know!

First stop- Rosarito

We didn’t know we were illegal until our way back north, a few weeks later. Our first mission after crossing the border was the get as far from the city of Tijuana as possible before dark.

We stopped at km58 campground in Rosarito right as the sun was disappearing over the horizon.

Baja sunset
Beautiful Baja sunset over the Pacific

Though we were dreaming of fish tacos, the nearby restaurant we walked to only served (Mexican) Thai food and pizza!

It was okay, there would be many fish and shrimp tacos in our future.

And a couple lobsters, too!

We fell asleep with the van doors open, listening to the waves crash on the beach below.

Van life Baja roadtrip
Now I understand why my rumpl blanket color is called Baja blue ;)

That’s where I’m going to leave you for now.

More to come!

My 2018 year-end review

Today’s the day after Christmas. I’m supposed to be at the ski park with my husband (big news!) but instead, I’m home with a sore back. So, I decided to make the most of my sidelined state and write a long-overdue update that doubles as my new year review.

I know, it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’m sorry, but I can explain!

2018 was an intense year full of growth. Rapid growth — the kind that makes you simultaneously grateful it happened and relieved that it’s over.

Like puberty.

And on that note, here are my high- and low-lights from 2018:

A perfect October wedding

I’m married!!!

Just married on Wedding Rock! Photo by Nicole Dove Photography

This was definitely the most major thing to happen all year. It was a whirlwind adventure that started out as an idea to get eloped and blossomed into a legitimate, if unconventional, wedding.

I think we surprised a lot of people with our sudden engagement and fast wedding. I was pretty shocked, myself. If you’d told me this time last year that I was going to get hitched in 2018, I’d say no way. I’d be too busy training for my first 100-miler.

But the Universe had her own plans…

The worst fire season ever

Starting in early July, when my husband and three of his co-workers had to evacuate their farm and camp out at my house, this summer was filled with smoke and devastation.

It’s not uncommon for California to burn in the dry season, but this year was next level. We’re talking several weeks of smoke-filled skies. Ash falling from the sky. No direct sunlight.

I could go on, but you should just read my post about it here

The air quality was deemed unhealthy for running so races were canceled. Of course, we ran anyway. And we suffered for it.

NOT running 100 miles

As it happens, I never made it off the waitlist for Mountain Lakes 100-miler. If I’d gotten in, I probably wouldn’t have been fit enough to finish because of how the smoky summer affected my training.

I’m not actually upset about this. The way I see it- the same areas probably won’t burn again any time soon. I also won’t be getting married again. Without those two huge factors deterring me, I’m fucking unstoppable in the new year.

A honeymoon road trip to Baja

My trusty van driver navigating the narrow, cactus-lined highway of southern Baja <3

Baja easily tops my list of travel destinations! So much to write about, I’m going to make a separate post.

Can’t wait to share more of my Baja adventures with you!

Perhaps the most important thing, though, is what we came back with another dog.

New dog

We left our three dogs in the US while we traveled, which proved to be a big mistake.

As you may know, I’m a great dog lover.

We missed them so much that we took extra time to love every other dog we met. At one campground we stayed at, the owner had four other dogs and kept telling us we could take this one, so we did.

We call her Queen Isabella

She’s healthy, spayed, housebroken, and about 6 years old. We’re fostering her until we find the right furever home.

Interested? Shoot me an email.

She also doesn’t bark.

There were also races

Amidst all that, I ran two races: Headwaters 30k and Paiute Meadows 50k.

Two may seem like a low number, but it was a crazy year. In fact, I ran Headwaters only two weeks before my wedding so you could still see my skinned knees through my white fishnets!

I wouldn’t have it any other way

On days I couldn’t run, I focused on strength training, physical therapy for my piriformis syndrome, and improving my nutrition.

I look forward to further upping my food game with the books I got for Christmas!

With this setup, I have no doubt 2019 is going to be the best year yet!

BRING IT ON

I hope you enjoyed my yearly review!

Learned to let go of the things we can’t control…

Left em behind, and followed rock & roll.

This morning I saw a man dressed in a button down & tie for the first time since moving to Northern California. I think I love it here.

After that unusual spotting, I had breakfast in the café attached to my favorite locally owned health food store (there’s more than one within two miles of my house). Breakfast consisted primarily of fresh organic veggies and fair-trade coffee, and cost less than a taylor ham egg & cheese with crappy coffee would.

While I ate, I was entertained by an incredibly intelligent and eccentric older gentleman at a nearby table who claimed to have been John Adams in a past life. He kept my attention with several stories of how he saved people’s lives, including Ron Paul.

He told me that I was a Native American from upstate New York in a past life, and I take that as a compliment. I always thought I’d make a killer squaw. He told me women had much more power in that time and place. I don’t know why he told me this, but it really resonated with me.

I feel this inherited power guiding me sometimes. Life has thrown me a few curveballs recently. Last week, I learned that the farm job I had lined up for this summer fell through, so I once again find myself thrown into the whirlwind of transition. The gig I had counted on for housing, food and money vanished in a puff of smoke.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried so many different career paths, different places to call home, different shoulders to lean on and trails to run.

I can’t help it. I’m a mover and a shaker. And a music maker. World-loser and world-forsaker. (I’ll stop writing other people’s poetry, now.)

But I’m getting very, very tired. I feel like I’ve been running down a steep hill for a long time. Very consciously placing every step, because I never know when a rock will slip from below my feet. Focusing my full attention on maintaining my balance. Knowing that at some point soon, I’ll have relief. But that time is not now.

Sometimes, when I get really tired and worn out and start to think about giving up, I hear this voice in my mind. It’s a frighteningly powerful female voice. She knows me better than I know myself.

She encourages me to kick harder when my head’s about to go under. Sometimes I just feel her love and encouragement. Other times I hear things like, “get up. let go. move on. focus. jump now.” Just like Arya Stark repeating her mantras.

I remember the very first time I heard this voice. I was about eighteen years old, sitting at my parents’ kitchen table. My life was a chaotic disaster and I was just lying on my back letting it pass by. That morning, my mom explained to me that I had one last shot to get my shit together within two weeks or else they were going to send me to a halfway house type of deal.

“You can’t get lower than this,” the voice in my mind said, “so get up and start trying. You have nothing to lose.” If I could think of any one moment that changed my life, that would be it. My inner voice’s introductory statement on that dark and lonely day. Whenever I need confidence, I think of this day and how far I’ve come.

Right now, I find myself in a somewhat similar situation: essentially jobless, homeless, running low on cash and starting to sense a looming deadline for when I need to get my ish all sorted out. The main difference is that this time, I’m so much stronger.

I have a decade of experience behind me now that’s only made me tougher, wiser, and self-assured. I was jerked around, and that makes me angry, but every loved one that I’ve shared the news with has pulled through with more love and support than I’ve ever felt. And this time is different because I feel like I have nothing to lose without feeling like I have nothing.

I’m surrounded by beauty, delicious spring water, perfect trail running and a community full of friendly, positive and creative individuals. I literally live in a whimsical world of elves and fairies. I think I’ve found my people in this magical area of northern California and southern Oregon that comprises the mythical State of Jefferson.

Shasta is the first place I’ve called “home” on the West coast. After living like a gypsy for the past few years, I finally discovered a place I don’t want to leave. My job termination was a blessing in disguise.

Right now, I have no idea what I’m going to do, but for some reason, I’m overwhelmed with joy. I haven’t felt this determined to dig deep and work hard since that day in my parents’ kitchen. This time, my social support network is a million times stronger than it was back then.

I’m living in an energy vortex, the moon is waxing, the clock is ticking, and I’m pumped. It’s go time.

I’m really excited to see what I can do this time.

I know this was a lot more personal than most of my posts. I just want everyone to know that I’m hangin tough.

Title quote by The Bouncing Souls