Reflections on returning to America
This is me camping on top of La Laguna in Southern Baja. Climbing La Laguna was one of the last things I did before leaving Baja to return to the United States. I had been living in Baja for about six months at this point. I had explored much of the peninsular coastline, made friends with a few of the locals, and met many travelers following similar paths. I experienced my truck breaking down in the middle of nowhere with no money in my pocket. I witnessed a desert town flooding after a summer storm. I survived two hurricanes including “Oldile” the largest one to hit Baja in recorded history. I witnessed enormous thunder and lightning storms followed by amazing meteor showers. I observed dolphins; whales and turtles pass by while cooking meals from my camp on my own private beach. I experienced heat and thirst more than I had ever experienced previously in my life. I visited cave art made by people 9000 years ago. I surfed big hollow tubing waves on a level I was not used to from the united states, and I was running out of money. My tourist card and vehicle import permit were about to expire as well. I decided I would need to return to the United states to re-establish my self. What follow are my adventures from the last three months re-assimilating to life in the US.
I moved in to this casita about three weeks after hurricane “Oldile”. I paid $100 dollars and helped clean up the place after the hurricane in exchange for rent.. It was a pleasant place with a large private garden. I lived there longer than any other spot in Baja. It was nice to have my own bathroom, shower, bed and kitchen. It was tough leaving knowing that I did not know where I would stay or what I would do once I was back in the states. The one thing I did know was that I would be camping in my truck for a while.
Once again I packed up the old Toyota. I checked the tire pressure, changed the oil, air filter, and fixed a leak in the radiator. I gave away all the stuff that I could not fit, and said goodbye to the friends I made while in Todos Santos.
I had not been on the road for too long before I ran into a hitchhiker named Cabiri. She was a fellow traveler, someone who has given up the comforts of sedentary lifestyle in order to find something she has not found yet. She was traveling with only a backpack and had been traveling the world that way for the past few years.
Cabiri was a pleasant travel companion. She was helpful setting up and breaking down camp. We took turns doing the cooking and it worked out quite well. As someone who has traveled much of the desert alone with only my dog for company it was nice to travel with someone else. I love seeing the magic moments provided by spending time outdoors in the desert, and it was nice to have someone along to share them with.
Made it back to the U.S. a couple days before Thanksgiving. I dropped Cabiri off at the airport in San Diego. It was there our travels parted ways. She was headed for the mining camps of cold northern Canada where she could find work as a camp cook and make money to fund her future travels. I decided to stay in San Diego for a couple weeks to try to find some work, a place to live and maybe surf some big winter waves. It always trips me out when I return to the United States after having been away for so long. It is like returning to a familiar place, but seeing it fresh again with new eyes.
After six months baking in a desert, and two weeks of lovely high 70-degree weather in San Diego I decided to cool out at my parent’s house in northern California.
I spent about five days searching for arrowheads on the banks of lake Almanor with my mom. California is in a severe drought right now, and lake Almanor is at one of the lowest levels it has been in a long time. Lake Almanor is a man made lake. It used to be a big meadow and was home to the Maidu Indians. With the lake at its current low levels people have been finding arrowheads. After four unsuccessful days of searching for arrowheads, I found one on the end of the fifth day. I felt like finding this arrowhead made a connection for me with the original inhabitants of the place I grew up.
I visited friends living in Chico and spent the day searching for secret waterfalls in the beautiful mesas of Oroville. I felt like I was in a Irish Spring soap commercial.
My friend Al invited me to go fishing. When we arrived at the spot, it was socked in with fog. We took off full speed from the boat launch until we saw a large dark shape approaching us. It turned out to be the opposite shore of the lake. After quick evasive maneuvers we arrived at our destination. As we fished our way down the shore we observed an approaching glowing orb of light. It turned to be a rare phenomenon called a “Fog Bow”.
Twas the night before Christmas and my father and I were out in the freshly snow covered meadow shooting night photography.
Well as all things come to an end, my stay with my parents was over and I decided to return to warm southern California to bring in the New Year. With my truck still loaded with camp gear from Baja, I decided to skip the crazy new years party and decided instead to opt out for camping in the desert by myself. It turns out that the desert had just received three inches of snow the night before. Anyone who knows the Borrego desert well knows it is very rare for the desert to get this much snow. When I arrived the whole desert was white with not another person in sight. I took the first dirt road I found and started searching for a campsite. I ended up finding a little turnaround spot at the bottom of a trail-head that led to some hieroglyphs. It was there I met this dude who was camping a ridge over on a dry lake bead. He invited me over for a few beers for new years eave. it turns out he was into Peruvian shamanism. It was an interesting way to bring in the New Year.
So now after seven months of living the gypsy lifestyle of living on the road, sleeping in my truck and staying with friends and family, I have once again replanted and started growing roots. I am renting again and am once again employed, although somewhat temporarily, which I prefer. I now have the time to pursue projects that I could not pursue while living on the road. I have decided to get into chainsaw artistry. I will keep you all updated on how this is going. If you like my photography I have included a bunch more photos from this post below.