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Posts tagged ‘Bike Trails & Adventures’

Phoenix Area Campgrounds Part 4, Cave Creek Regional Park

Because of a girl’s weekend in Michigan with my college besties, I only stayed at Cave Creek Regional Park for one day. Therefore, Mitch should write this post. But he prefers photography. So this short interview is all I got: Read more

Phoenix Area Campground Reviews Part 2 – Usery Mountain Regional Park

You know you’re getting close to Usery Mountain Regional Park when you see the enormous white Phoenix directional sign painted on the side of the mountain. Then when you hear continual gun-fire, make a right and you’re there. Read more

Phoenix Area Campgrounds Part 1 – McDowell Mountain Regional Park

For years, when we traveled out west, we completely avoided the Phoenix area. Sprawl, traffic, crowds, pollution – not our idea of great camping opportunities. But then we heard from other RVers about a county park near Scottsdale called McDowell Mountain. Nearly impossible to get into but well worth the effort, everyone said. It is now our all-time favorite park. Just outside Phoenix. Who knew?? Read more

Going out for Pizza

The word around town was that we had to try the pizza in El Triunfo. We’d passed through El Truinfo on the way from La Paz to Los Barrilles and it looked like many of the other towns along the highway – a cute church, many hollowed-out buildings, a couple of topes (speed bumps). But Becky, our ever up-beat wagonmaster, had assured us that it warranted a return trip.

We prefer to calorically justify our eating excursions so I started to look for blog posts or web guides for an activity to do in El Triunfo other than the heavy lifting required to get pizza slice to mouth. We’d seen a tiny square sign when passing through Triunfo with a bicycle and a directional arrow. Did I dare dream of a biking trail in this tiny town in Baja??

We didn’t find any trails listed on Trailforks (this great app that a mountain bike guide in Los Barriles had told us about). And many of the listings on the on-line search were for mountain bike tours covering all of Baja. But I did find a couple of posts, in Spanish, about a mountain bike race in El Triunfo – Ciclismo Baja Sur. It sounded promising enough and, although the maps I’d found were vague, we figured someone in Triunfo would be able to point us in the right direction.

El Triunfo was once a mining boom town. At its height in the 1890s it had about 4,000 – 10,000 residents. But when the gold and silver ran out, so did the mining companies. Now it looks like there might be a couple hundred people living in the ruins. But they are really cool ruins and a few businesses are moving in to restore the old brick buildings and breath life back into the town. One of two remaining chimneys used in the calcination process (whatever that is) was designed by Gustov Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower and they are trying to complete some much needed restoration work on it.

When we got to El Triunfo (it is about 45 minutes north of Los Barriles) we turned at the arrow/bike sign on the main highway looking for the trailhead. No luck. It is a very small town though so it didn’t take us too long to drive all the way through it, on both sides of the highway, searching for any other possible clues to this bike trail. Still no luck. We parked and I asked a bartender in a cute little restaurant if he knew anything about it. He said that he thought it was behind the chimney. We walked to the chimney but the area was closed due to the restoration work. As we were walking back to the car wondering what to do next, I noticed what looked like a goat trail at the end of a street leading down into a wash. On a piece of paper smaller than a business card stapled to a fencepost (not the closest fencepost to the street), was a black arrow pointing towards the wash. I followed it and found another arrow pointing north. We’d found the trail!

brandi runHave I mentioned that we’d only brought one bike? So I ran the trail with Brandi (that’s actually not a punishment – I really love trail running!) and Mitch took the bike. It was marked well at first, although the paper arrows would be destroyed after one major rain. But then, as we got further, the arrows were turned the other way. So we’d missed something, somewhere, but we continued on, going against the arrows. After a little over three miles, going through an arroyo, over some hills, and behind the chimney, we ended up back in town. I decided that I’d call it a day but Mitch wanted to go back through.

About an hour later, Mitch rode into town, relieved that he’d found his way back but with a big grin on his face. “You missed the really cool part,” he said. There’d been a turn that we’d wondered about when we’d passed it. He took it the second time and it ended up being some really fun single-track with great views. Too late though – my brain had moved on to pizza.

The pizza was in a restaurant called Cafe El Triunfo, in an old brick building that the owner has beautifully restored. It was a unique space with one relic-filled room leading to the next, patios, awnings, balconies, and an open air bar and brick oven overlooking the Eiffel chimney. We sat at the bar and watched the staff make our pizza and slide it in the oven while the resident Great Dane buried chunks of bread in the dirt around the patios to dig up later (the server told us that he always remembers every hiding spot).

I am not a pizza connoisseur – almost any dough with cheese makes me happy. But this was goooood!! Nice thin, crispy crust, fresh, fragrant basil, lots of mozzarella. Before we knew it, our large had disappeared.

Calorically speaking – I know I didn’t come close to breaking even. But Becky was right – El Triunfo was worth the return trip.

tree wall

I loved that they built the wall around the tree!

Yipeeee!! We’re South of the Border

Traveling through Baja with an RV caravan. Beautiful beaches and deserts - can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

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Moab in the Rearview

We finally left Moab.  We stayed for nearly two weeks – very ungrasshopperish!  I’ll share just a few more photos.  Keep in mind though, even with Mitch’s great photography, the feeling of this place is nearly impossible to capture on film.  The vastness of the canyons and rock formations alongside delicate details such as the graceful swirl of a petrified sand dune combined with rocks colored orange, red, mustard, and Caribbean blue are things only the human eye can hope to comprehend.  Just go see for yourself!  (I am not a paid promoter for the Moab Chamber of Commerce!)

This is the famous Delicate Arch. That little dot on the far right of the photo is me. Known internationally to photographers as a sunset destination, we hiked out to it on a rainy afternoon thinking we might capture some interesting cloud formations. On our way out, the rain stopped and the blue sky peeked through some of the clouds. We almost had the place to ourselves!

Another spectacular sunset. This is Skyline Arch in Arches National Park.

One bonus to traveling during the winter!

Did I mention that the colors of the dirt and rock around here are crazy?!

We rode our bike to the Needles Overlook in the portion of Canyonlands National Park south of Moab. It was a great ride even though a lot of the road was covered with snow. We saw more bikers than cars on this 32 mile ride. Yeah!

The stories told by the gnarled, weathered old tree trunks are almost as interesting as those of the land.

My niece, nephew, and brother-in-law came out to visit us for a couple of days. It was so great to see them. They showed me a thing or two about bouldering. My 30 seconds on the rock had me wincing in pain for the next week!

On this particular bike ride Mitch was going so fast that his mustache blew right off his face!

Golden Gate Kayak Symposium

Even with 50 mph winds and Tsunami waves, Mitch’s kayak symposium was a great success.  It was a beautiful location, literally at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The kayakers took over the beach at Horseshoe Cove, a palette of primary colored boats and paddlers of all sizes milling about in orange and purple dry suits.  The kayakers that signed up for these classes are hardcore (water temp 50 degrees, air temp 50 degrees).  They were looking for conditions to push their skills and they definitely got them.  Mitch took advantage of the west coast venue to improve his rock garden paddling skills and had a great time.

Some more rock garden playing.

Some of Mitch’s fellow rock garden students.

Our good friend Rev. Bonnie Perry from Chicago attended the symposium also. It was great to see her!

 

I had great views of the San Francisco Bay from my hike.  Those tiny white dots are sailboats.  The bay was full of sailors, kite boarders, windsurfers, kayakers.  San Franciscans seem to really take advantage of their beautiful location.

Wildflowers of all colors and shapes covered the hills of the Marin Headlands. I had a strong urge, once I reached the top of this trail, to spread my arms open and spin around singing “The hills are alive…”

 

Pigeon Point

When we left Santa Cruz we thought we’d head up to Half Moon Bay for a couple of days before going on to San Francisco for Mitch’s kayak symposium.  But about 40 minutes outside of Santa Cruz we stumbled upon a private campground, a KOA actually, that was kind of in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, and decided to stay.  It turned out to be a great spot.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, about 3 miles north of our campground.

The camping sites were fairly well spaced for a private campground and again, we could see the ocean from our site (if the campground hadn’t been mostly empty, we wouldn’t have had that luxury).  The bathroom/laundry facilities each had saunas and outdoor fireplaces.  The campground shared the property with a small lodge and so they also had a restaurant that served great local beer.

After unhooking we decided to explore up the coast and check out Half Moon Bay.  We really both wanted to see Mavericks.  A person would never just stumble upon Mavericks.  It isn’t signed.  Even when you get there, you are not really sure you are there.  You have to know when to turn off of the highway and then you drive through a very industrial-looking area and then make a couple of other unnatural turns.  Finally you see parking for a trailhead.  You walk close to a mile on a trail out to a beach and a headland with big doppler radar on top of it.  We saw a jetty that resembled the one showed over and over in the news clips and we saw a big sign that said the waves could be very dangerous.

Looking out over where the Mavericks surf competition is held.

Finally, we saw a rock with “Foo” carved into it (the name of the professional surfer killed here) and figured that it must be the spot.  The swell wasn’t big enough the day we went to have any organized waves so it was hard to envision what it must look like when it is working.  It looked like an extremely unforgiving piece of real estate, though.

Riding our bikes along Pacific Coast Highway.

The next day we biked from our campground up Pacific Coast Highway for about 10 miles and then turned inland 2 miles to a little town called Pescadero.  It was so cute!  We had a great lunch at the local market, bought some garlic/artichoke bread, and then went to a goat milk dairy just on the outskirts of town.  They had a dairy store open for sampling.  I absolutely love goat’s milk cheese.  Mitch hates it.  So I had a great time.  There were so many choices but I ended up getting a cranberry/walnut variety.

I’m standing in the doorway of the Harley Farms Goat Cheese tasting room trying to decide where to start.

This was a funky dining room above the tasting room. The dairy hosts “Farm Dinners” about once a month – $150 per person! That’s a lot of goat cheese!

We took a different road back to our campground which was a little bit of a risk since we forgot to bring a map with us.  But it worked out.  The road climbed and dipped and skirted a state park and then followed a creek through a beautiful forest until it ended about a mile north of our destination.

After our bike ride we went to the beach for sunset.  Can a day be more perfect?

Waves crashing over rocks at Gazo Beach.