Pattison on Wheels

Saturday, March 15, 2008

3-14-08: How Ridiculous

A lovely morning and I packed up then took a hike up Devil’s Hall. It was nice. The canyon is flanked by magnificent high rocky mountains. The Devil’s Hall was almost like a man made passage. The photo gives a hint of the scene. The human is included for scale and to show how ridiculous we must look in general to mother nature.

Thence to the dusty road again and southward toward an invitation to visit old friends. It was so windy in a town misnamed Alpine that I was startled by a tumbleweed blowing down the railroad tracks as I crossed them. It was bigger than my car and went so fast that by the time I saw it and reacted it was long gone. There were few cars on the road. Fun to see a group of motorcycles all leaning into the wind on a straight road.

I arrived in time to shower and be presentable for a small dinner party. Nice people. Good food. Good conversation.

3-13-08: Mariah

I didn’t dawdle and hit the road to see if I could make it to Guadalupe Mountains National Park by evening. I did—over a long hot road through the devastation know as El Paso and some dust storms. It was blowing pretty hard at the park when I arrived and got one of the last open tent sites. I used my old tent and tied it to a fence post then put huge rocks around the inside so I wouldn't blow away during the night. Actually, I slept pretty well with the ear plugs firmly implanted.

3-12-08: Life Is Good . . . Sometimes

I woke early in the Motel 6 so I got up even though I didn’t have that much sleep. I immersed in the computer for as long as I could and then left to get the car worked on. Derek Scott is a VW geek’s geek. He talked on the phone, solved problems for other cars that came by, chatted constantly with several people hanging around, and after a lot of hours, only one of which he charged me for, fixed more things than I had on my list and charged less than a third of what other mechanics would have. He used parts that he had gathered from other cars and knowledge he had gathered from being a VW hobbyist.

I was very gratified to get so many problems fixed in such a short time. Mostly I was just gratified to find someone who delivers what he is being hired for.

I went to the car wash and gave the little diesel a wash and wax, bought a map and hit the road toward Tuscon. The map says there is a park there. I drove through rush hour traffic in Phoenix and then through a desert sunset. It was after dark when I discovered the park I went to didn’t have camping but the map on the closed visitor center showed a county park next door with a campsite. I found it, set up my big new tent in the dark successfully thanks to my new head mounted flashlight. The air is warm and soft. There is a gentle breeze. It is very quiet and the stars are nice. Life is good.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3-11-08: Driving Fool

We made a nice breakfast on the boat and then I said goodbye and good luck to Jim. I started East, not really quite knowing where I might end up. I did know that there was a recommended mechanic in Phoenix so I headed that way. I called him when I was about a hundred miles out of San Diego and he sounded great and I was rolling so I told him I'd be there tomorrow. I stopped for various shopping and got to Phoenix by 6 PM. Got a motel and caught a meeting. Back on the Internet into the night.

3-10-08: Rest And Catch-Up

Nothing much to report. I did errands and used the excellent San Diego library system for Internet access. A nice restful day.

Jim and I chatted for a while in the evening and took a walk on the docks and piers around the marina.

Monday, March 10, 2008

3-9-08: The Perfect Antidote For Third World Culture Shock

Another boat day. My friend Jim drove us a couple hours from his slip to San Diego bay where we had a great dinner at the Bali Hai restaurant with a great view of the Sunday boaters on the bay. Lots of good conversation too.

We took a tour of the bay and then cruised back north in the dark to sleep well on the boat.

3-8-08: Tiny Cheap Plastic Accordions . . . Uh, For Sale

Up early to wash myself and my car. On the road again after checking email. Stopped occasionally for the scenery but definitely ready to be out of Mexico.

I had quite a few problems getting to the border. There was some ambiguity about the traffic signs. There was a long line and I didn’t know the drill. There were four lanes of which the middle two were in line for the border crossing. Not knowing, I took the right lane and then realized what was happening. I cajoled and begged my way into the correct lane and after quite a wait was directed to the back of the line again by a police person. So I spent altogether more than two hours waiting to get across the border.

There were lots of vendors selling things that I can’t imagine that anyone would want. Bizarre huge ceramic turtles and lots of people selling the same tiny cheap plastic accordions. Unrecognizable food. The Mexican official presence was two police types on bicycles. The US border was easy enough and I was so glad to back in the US. I have never appreciated this country more.

3-7-08: The Fugitive

This is the crunch. They tell me the only place I might get checked for the Tourist Card I do not have is crossing the state line from Baja California Sur to Baja California Norte. So I got up at 4:30 local time because I was assured they only operate during daylight hours. Sure enough, though there was someone there it was not an official type and he waved me through. I took a side trip to Bahia De Los Angeles. Very nice. The first highway I could really call scenic. The bay was gorgeous as well but the scene was the usual mess so I took a few photos and then turned around and headed back to the main highway.

I had intended to stop after about 200 miles but almost doubled that before I finally pulled into Don Diego’s campground and went to sleep at about 3:30 PM and slept for 14 hours.