Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo!

January 2, 2015—Wow! Did last year fly by. We kicked off the new year in Nopolo, Baja California Sur and then spent the next few months renting casitas (the sticks and bricks kind) in Todos Santos, La Paz, and finally Los Barriles. We had an amazing time in Baja Mexico and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

In mid-March, we made our way back to the States. We de-winterized the Journey and then hung out with our New Mexico family for a month. On the meander up to Colorado, we stopped by Albuquerque. Here the Journey got a check up and new tires, and we had a great couple of happy hours with a bunch of young full-timers: Watsons Wander, Tales from the Mutiny, and Finding Marshall.

Mid-April found us boondocked outside Moab, UT, where we spent a few weeks in the red rocks with Horton’s Travels.

happy hour with a view outside Moab

End of April, we spent a week in Durango where it snowed on us! So much for a year away from snow…. Then we moseyed east to boondock outside Poncha Springs and commute up to Leadville to take care of the annual dental/doctor visits. For the first year since we’ve been Coloradans, we finally caught the CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista.

In May, we met Mom Drake in Kansas and caravanned back to Wisconsin for our nephew Taylor’s graduation from high school. Good times hanging with our Wisconsin family!

Jim decided to help out his old business partner again this summer so from June – August, we wandered around Summit and Lake counties in our condo on wheels. It was a summer of hiking, biking, and running local trails. This really is a beautiful place to be in the summer.
Peak One Lake Dillon

Leadville Sunset

Mineral Belt Trail

Eventually, Jim agreed to stick around Summit and work until end of November. Over Labor Day, we drove the Journey down to New Mexico and winterized it in 90 degree weather!

Leaving Las Cruces and Journey

…packed up the Xterra and drove back to Frisco, CO, to a condo rental. We spent our time hiking and biking Summit county trails and taking full advantage of all the locals’ deals in Frisco during what’s known up here as ‘mud season.’ Our condo was at the end of town, across the street from the bike path, and walking distance from several hiking trails.

It’s an easy drive down to Denver so we made a couple trips to bike the trails around town when the weather was chilly up in the hills and caught some awesome bands at Riot Fest.

For Jim’s birthday, we headed west for a little biking in Colorado National Monument; a stop by The Hot Tomato for the best ever stromboli in Colorado and Copper Club Brewing for some great beer in Fruita (both within biking/walking distance of James M. Robb State Park); and a backpack trip in Canyonlands Needles District.

Backpacking Needles

Fall was amazing this year in Frisco! Little rain, no mud, warm and sunny, incredible color in the aspens, and not much snowfall until the last two weeks of November. By the end of those two weeks we were ready to hit the road; the snow drifts on the bike path were now up past our knees!

Downtown Frisco

Thanksgiving weekend we were outta Frisco and on our way to Las Cruces to hang with our New Mexico family again.

And then we were off Arizona to spend December boondocked near Winterhaven, CA with Horton’s Travels. Good times, great friends, decent hiking and biking, cold beers, and a great start to the New Year!

Full Circle

September 1, 2014–We set off four years ago with our two dogs, Star and Siri in our lovely little Casita from Leadville, CO. Four years later, we’re back in Colorado in Frisco, CO without our dogs, our Casita, or even our RV. We found a short-term rental through November so Jim can do some in-house consulting for a bit. We winterized the RV and left it in New Mexico as we weren’t looking forward to driving a 28,000 lb brick up and over mountain passes coated with snow and ice at the end of November.

Looking forward to being in a town from which we can hit the trails–biking, hiking, and walking–for a few months. Not looking forward to snow though!

Living the Dream

August 1, 2014–Every month, I (Julie) connect with a client for a group call and most calls someone asks where I am in the world. At a recent call, I mentioned that we were going to be stationary for a few months in Frisco CO. And someone lamented that we’d be stuck in the same place for three months “…but you’re living the dream!” So I got to thinking: Whose dream?

Four years ago, this was our dream to be out and about exploring the States while working remotely—and the past four years have been grand.

Unfortunately, some of the places we’d really love to be still have no Internet access. Wild places—places we love to be. So it’s frustrating… We end up in the same places knowing there’s reliable Internet—most places we love but still it’s frustrating.

Now my dream is bigger: It’s hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or biking the PanAm or driving through Africa or wandering SE Asia.

We’re so close to the goal of being free but the strings are still there.

Heading Home via Mainland Mexico

March 14-15, 2014—Instead of returning via the route we drove down to Baja, we made a one-day push from Topolobampo on mainland Mexico to the States. First, we had to get across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland—and we’d also need an auto import sticker for the Xterra —required on mainland but not Baja.

We started prepping in February while in La Paz: We placed our ~$350 deposit (by credit card!) and purchased our import sticker next to the ferry terminal in Pichilinque. Then we headed to downtown La Paz and bought the tickets for the Xterra and us (tickets can be bought from BajaFerries but the website wasn’t working when we tried). Only same day tickets are issued at the ferry terminal in Pichilinque.

Heading Home
Waiting on deck for cargo trucks to be loaded

Our departure date arrived and we headed to the ferry terminal. We got the once over by Mexican customs and then had to proceed through the port to the ferry line. After our customs inspection and before getting in the ferry line, we were routed past a kiosk where we were surprised to find we needed to pay a port use fee. For the Xterra it was about 150 pesos; at first we thought this was a scam but noticed that locals were paying it too so stopped arguing with the fee collector and just paid it. Jim drove the car on while Julie walked on and then we met up top; for this ferry only one person was allowed in the car and once loaded there was no option to stay in the car.

The crossing takes about six hours but with waiting in line and loading it was more like eight hours. We were imagining something like the ferries in Seattle but this was nothing like that…it was more like cruise ship with a huge cafeteria, a lounge, an outside deck, a salon with movies, and for an extra cost, private cabins. We chose to hang with crowd. First we swung by the cafeteria for our included meal of chicken and rice slathered with gravy and then hung outside on the deck for a while watching for sea life. We got a short show of dolphins flipping out of the wake around sunset but no whales or rays. We arrived at Topolobampo around 10 p.m., Julie met Jim in the parking area and we found a small basic hotel a short drive from the ferry dock.

The next morning we got up early and headed north toward Nogales via Hermosilla. Mostly toll roads on the way back with only one military checkpoint vs. the six or seven on Baja Peninsula. What a difference driving the mainland…in many of the towns we were ambushed at stoplights and stop signs and gas stations by folks of all ages wanting to wash our windshield. Sometimes they didn’t even wait for us to stop. Life is definitely different on the mainland.

The drive back was relatively easy. After eight hours, we turned in our car import sticker and visas and were in line at the Mariposa crossing near Nogales, AZ. We patiently waited in line for at least 30 minutes declining the steady stream of vendors hawking their wares: rosaries, wine bottle holders, food, even coat racks! (Who buys a coat big ol’ rack? Amazingly a car next to us did.)

We made it to the first checkpoint, explained we’d been in Mexico for around three months, got the examination of the underside of our rig with a selfie-type stick with a mirror, and then were waved over for an ‘agricultural inspection.’ Three very shiny happy customs folks poked around in the Xterra before setting us free. Seriously, this was the nicest reception we’ve received back to the States in a long time. Usually, the attitude we get from customs folks makes us feel like turning around and going back to where we came from.

Our Baja adventure over, we pointed the Xterra east and back to Las Cruces to de-winterize our condo on wheels.

For info about an RV Baja adventure check out Kasson’s Wild Ride.

Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, Mexico

February 14-March 14, 2014—Off from La Paz to the home of the Lord of the Winds, Los Barriles (LB), famous for fishing, wind surfing, and kite boarding. We were a bit worried we might spend our days inside hiding from the infamous breezes but were lucky to only have a few days during our time here that were too windy to hang outside.

We had a great time in LB! Highlights from our month there:

  • Meeting up with Kassons Wild Ride
  • Snorkeling at Punta Pescadero and Cabo Pulmo
  • Kayaking w/ manta rays and dolphins
  • Morning runs along the coast
  • Biking up the hill from town
  • Hanging out on the roof top deck of the casa we rented

Los Barriles Life