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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oceanside Occupancy and Mexico!

In our natural habitat
Urban camping at Mike and Megan's

 Crossing the desert to Oceanside, California, we had one nerve-wracking stop when we thought we heard an odd noise. Upon getting underneath the car we thought we saw transmission fluid leaking, however, after a call to our mechanic back home who fixed up the transmission, we were reassured that in fact the overflow we saw was fine and our fluid was at the right level. Crisis averted, we carried on, rolling into Oceanside, California and our friend Mike Archbold’s house at 7 pm

While Mike had a nasty fever and felt terrible, he mustered up energy and showed us around downtown where we stopped for a beer at Stone Brewing. Afterwards we headed to his favorite bar for another. It is amazing how good friends can pick up right where they left off; the night was filled with laughter over stories of the past and present. Across the street we grabbed huge burritos, bid Mike goodnight and headed out on the pier to eat. Brian was a kid in a candy store, he saw the ocean and freaked out, giggling in excitement over all the perfect looking waves and the surfers who were out night surfing.

Brian, Dave, and James with the boards
After a night of urban camping in Mike and Megan’s driveway (Mike’s girlfriend), our next day was dedicated to our last remaining errands. We found some used surfboards at Real Surf where Josh made friends with the owners six year-old, running all around the store with her as the rest of us found the deals we were looking for. The owner was a helpful man who led us to a great long board and a wide fish board design giving us an excellent package deal. If you’re ever in Oceanside this is the surf shop to hit (trust us we stopped at corporate Surf and Ride followed by a stop in the small shop across the way where an acid burnout tried to rip us off, pricing a terrible long board out for $250. Dave? at Real Surf Dave does great work and is not looking to put you out on the street.)

At Autozone and Carquest we picked up a kill switch, extra belts, cables for the back tailgate, and extra transmission fluid. At RadioShack we purchased an AC to DC converter. In a dive shop we found a Hawaiian Sling. At Home Depot we bought a cable lock, duct tape, and made extra keys. Gathering our new items, we started packing everything at Mike’s and cracked some of Josh’s excellent ciders. Brian, James, and I decided to get burgers at Mike’s favorite burger joint, Ty’s, for our last meal in the U.S. Ty is a friendly man who spent a few years in Bend and was nice enough to give me a free beer, what a guy. The western bacon cheese burger with haystack onions on it was superb. After some last calls to Mom, Dad, and the little man (Ian), I joined Brian, Mike, and Megan inside.

Josh's position for the day
Meanwhile, Josh was out on the town catching up with some high school friends. Josh came in at 11 pm in fine form, Brian and I sensed a rough morning coming, Josh assured us that would not be the case. In the morning, according to plan we rose at 5 am to get over the border early. Josh was in classic Josh form, let’s just say he did not do too much packing of the car and spent most of the time unpacking his belly. The car loaded, we headed to Tecate based on advice from Hanna Eckert my dear co-counselor from this past summer (she bequeathed us a treasure trove of information Baja information- more on that later). Driving through the desert was stunning, recent rains left the desert verdant and the rolling hills revealed copious granite boulders. The sights left Brian, James and I exclaiming in excitement while Josh silently appreciated the vistas

At the border we stopped to reconnoiter, purchasing Mexican car insurance and checking off our final boxes. We crossed the border, enduring an extremely cursory inspection of the car (all our canned and dried goods from home made it over!) and without showing our passports we were over. “Wooooeee!” we whooped, the trip was happening.

As Brian navigated the streets we tried to follow signs towards Ensenada but ended up turned around. Upon realizing our mistake we had our welcome to Mexico moment. As we were about to turn around Brian noticed that a motorcycle cop had pulled out behind us with its lights on

“Shoot, pull over to the side,” James suggested. We were all on edge as a pudgy cop stepped off his motorcycle and sauntered up to the door

“Do you know why I stopped you? Y hablas espanol?” he asked.

“No se, y si,” I replied. In broken English and some Spanish he claimed that we had not stopped fully behind a crosswalk while a person was on the far side walking over, and he claimed we were not wearing our seat-belts. We showed him that we were in fact wearing our seat-belts and confusedly tried to figure out what had happened. We were a bit discombobulated having been caught off guard, we asked how much the ticket was. He suggested that it would probably be about 700 pesos or 60 dollars. We were not stoked. He said that we could follow him back to the police station. Stopping short of the station on the side of the road, he returned to our car and coolly asked if we “understood things” in Mexico. Brian in the drivers’ seat did not catch that he was intimating, that he would not give us a ticket for the right price. He asked us how much money we had, having just crossed the border Brian had $11 dollars US and I had a $5, we told him that we had $11. As he hemmed and hawed, explaining that we could take our chances with the judge, that it would take a few hours, Brian slowly picked up the drift that he was suggesting a bribe would be best. Josh and I jumped in, explaining that I had an extra 5 dollars but 16 dollars was all that we had. Finally, he agreed that that would be enough. He proceeded to give us directions to get out of town (as we were definitely on the wrong track initially!)

Frazzled, we slowly got our bearings while making some more wrong turns and finally heading out into the country. The beauty of the desert slowly brought our minds off the shake down and back to the moment at hand. Crossing desert washes and large valleys planted with wine and table grapes we headed towards Ensenada

In Ensenada we parked the rig and Brian, James, and I headed into town to find a bank, we needed money. Trekking through town, we were offered free drinks, free massages, and free girls, the joys of gringo filled tourism. Turning them down with smiles, we claimed to be headed into the monastery, which brought some smiles. After getting the money we rushed out of the gringo tourist trap as fast as we could, filling up the tank on the far side of town.

Cruising through the desert once more, we stopped and picked up vegetables and fruit at an abborretes, or small grocery store in San Vincent.  In Colonet we took a side road that we knew headed to the coast and meandered out to a gorgeous point where we set up camp. Brian was stoked on the waves, James and Josh were stoked on a beautiful camping spot, and I was stoked on the wildly diverse desert. With an incredible sunset and even better company we went to bed happy campers.

Not a bad view

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