Monday, December 28, 2009


Our way from Puerta Vallarta to Morelia was so slow, that sometimes we even went backwards. Just before we got to Guadalajara, we learned about a ¨shaman gathering¨ nearby. We went and witnessed a Huichol ceremony, ¨Raices de la Terra¨ complete with shamanic dances, sweatlodges and drumcircles. The latter two were identical to the ones of the indigenous people up in Canada. We did not take pictures out of respect, and this is the only image we got when walking to the highway after the gathering.
Then we went to Morelia, where we had a place to staÿ: a friend of ours, whom we met in La Paz, gave us the keys to her place!!! We stayed in this beatiful colonial town for a few days, rested from the road and went for walks in the historic town. There were clonial courtyards, huge cathedrals that took 150 years to be completed, and even an aqueduct! This is the view from our front door.
We figured it would take us a few days to get from Morelia to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary, near the town of Ocampo, but our luck was amazing: a straight ride, how would you like that!? We showed up at dusk, when the butterflies were getting together to spend the cold night. A park ranger took us behind the fenced-off area, where we could see an even denser clump of butterflies within an arm´s reach. Our lucky strip did not end up there, for when we asked that same warden where could we camp for the night, he set us up in a huge concrete ticket booth, where we slept soundly until today´s morning.
We are now in Zitacuaro, devising a way to get to the capital of the nation with minimum walking. We´ll probably hitch-hike again :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crossing the Sea of Cortez

There are several ways to get from La Paz to the mainland, but most of them are really expensive and not a lot of fun. The best way to go it is to hitch a ride on a boat, which is exactly what we did! It took some socializing at Marina de La Paz, and after a few days we met Sam, captain of Alluvium, a 47 foot sailboat, bound for Puerto Vallarta. Sam is a great person, very attentive and easy to get along with. Anastasia at the helm:
There were two more people on board, Kenny and Jamie, a father-and-daughter team travelling to Guatemala. They are both experienced sailors, so we felt really safe in their company.
The crossing took two days, and as Sam predicted, the weather was perfect most of the way. It ramped up a bit during the night though, the swells were 6 or 8 feet tall, wind gusted up to 22 knots and the engine broke once, but there was nothing that our captain could not handle with supreme calmness.
This is how the cooking at sea is done: hold on and don't spill!
In the pleasant sunshine of the daytime cruising, we played with dolphins off the bow, saw a whale breach and spotted a few turtles, leasurly floating on the water.

We are now in Puerto Vallarta, a port with huge cruise-ships and a lot of gringos. It is a little warmer and more humid here than in the desert, but the change in flora is surely nice! We'll head out soon, in the direction of Guadalajara.

Baja California Sur

It is very easy to hitch-hike in Mexico, and riding in the back of a pick-up is an essential part of Mexican life. Everybody here travels like that - from heavyly armed policemen to 2 year old kids and construction workers. Our first ride in the box was three hours long, through a beautiful desert on a nice sunny day.
When we got to La Paz (peace in Spanish), we went to Carlos' house, whom we met throught couchsurfing. He had no room in the house for us, so we slept in his front yard, under a coconut palm. It was really warm during the night, maybe around 12 or 15 C, but Carlos and his family could not believe that we did not freeze sleeping outside.
Through couchsurfing, we also met Edgar, a marine biologist, who took us around town and showed us many different cactuses on the hills around La Paz (these little red fruit come off very easy and taste like strawberry!)
And this huge thing is called Cardon, it grows really slow, so you can say that this is an old-growth cactus:) Edgar also took us on a small roadtrip to a small village of Lopez Mateos, on the Pacific side of the peninsula, where he and his friends run a turtle project, Proyecto Caguama.
Our stay in La Paz was awesome, we picked up some Spanish and made a lot of friends.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two in one


For the last couple of weeks we have traversed many climatic zones - from coastlines, old-growth ancient forests to uninhabited valleys and deserts. This is the largest tree in the world (by volume):
That's Anastasia in the tree there... After exploring King's Canyon and Sequoia parks, we headed down south... Just as we were leaving the mountains, we met Shel, who invited us to stay at his campground for the night, just outside of Three Rivers. Once in our conversation we mentioned that we were looking for a job to continue our journey, next thing we know - we've been offered one to take care of the flower garden that he built a couple of years ago and was slowly planning to add some perrenial flowers to its numerous terraces. We stayed for two days, working during the day and enjoying the company of our host in the evenings.
Afterwards, in our loose plans, was to head towards canyons of southern Utah that our good friends from Ontario have visited in autumn and were amazed by the beautiful shapes and textures. We chose to go there through Death Valley. We have never been to the desert so we were quite exited for our further route.
Catching a ride during Thanksgiving weekend in the Mojave desert is not the easiest thing. So we were stuck there for two days camping amongst dried out prickly bushes and blowing sand. We had to experience the desert somehow we thought, so that was our chance!
As we were leaving the desert, we found out that it is freezing cold in the canyons already -12C and snowing! Alright then, we are going south to Mexico. Decision is made and it feels good!

Dec 2

It's our third day in Mexico, we have covered about 30 km on foot and we are 1000 km south from Tijuana - in Santa Rosalia, on the east coast of Baja California.
People here are friendly and helpful, but our lack of Spanish is frustrating. Yesterday we got a ride from a guy who owns a metal recycling yard, and he offerd us an empty industrial office building to camp in for a day of two. We took him up on his offer and are now enjoying a warm sunny day without heavy bags on our shoulders.

Monday, November 16, 2009

San Fran

After having spent a week in a suburb of San Francisco, we are well rested, cleaned up and ready to go again! We've met cool friends of Urtica's in town, took a tour of Pixar studios and strolled down to the Golden Gate Park , Haight & Ashbury and that steep zig-zagy street.

The weather's great, next stop - King's Canyon, home of the world's BIGGEST trees!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Big Trees in California

A lot of good things have happened to us since we left the ever-sprawling Sacramento and headed to the Redwood national Park on the West Coast. While we were making our way through a beautiful town of Weaverville, almost EVERY passing driver showed us this mysterious sign. We decided that it was the locals' secret excuse sign. Puzzling, isn't it? The couple that eventually stopped for us, turned out to be the ex-owners of the bar that gave name to the town of Big Bar. The lunch they brought out for us made our day: in case you can't tell, that's smoked salmon and crackers on the left and vegetarian wraps on the top right. The day kept unrolling in the most sublime way, and when we were dropped off in a sea-side park in Trinidad, a buck-skin clad gentleman seemed to be waiting for us there. He welcomed us to Humboldt county with his bamboo pipe and stories about his true hippie life - he spent five years living in a teepee!
Tired from taxing life on the road, the noise of engines, truck stops and stinky exhaust, we went for a walk amongst the world's tallest trees. We think that we saw THE tallest one in the Tall Trees Grove, but we did not have the pamphlet to tell us which one it was. In the four days that we spent in the park, we forded cool streams, walked among giants and strolled on beaches.

The tree on the right in this photo is about three feet in circumference.
We saw elk, deer, newts and big banana slugs.
This rough-skinned newt, as we learned later, is of a very poisonous kind. If we would have licked his orange belly, we would have died for sure. It develops the poison as a defense against the snakes that hunt it. The snakes, in turn, build immunity to the poison, and the newt increases the poison's potency. The competition has been going on for ages.
After we came out of the forest, we met a very interesting and kind person, Jay, a vegan lawyer, who lived in his off the grid cabin in a beautiful valley near Garberville. We stayed with him for three days, reading, resting and eating delicious vegan meals. This is the view from his balcony.
The day we left Jay was the most perfect hitch-hiking day. Charged with good karma and positive vibrations we got to the on-ramp at 9, and as our cardboard sign "SAN FRAN" was half done, two ladies stopped for us. We had our second breakfast (huge American portions) with them at a small restaurant in a small California town. They dropped us off in San Francisco later in the day. Once in the big city again, we did not fret, but called up our friend Urtica, bought some beer and went to her fancy place in Emeryville. We'll stay with her for a week or so, and then continue:)

Monday, October 26, 2009


Made it Sacramento dot Big palm trees here dot Another two day truck ride from Iowa to California dot We are so tired from it dot Pictures to follow Over

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Truckin' thru

After spending a weekend with our friends in North Bay we got a ride with the friend of theirs going straight to Sault Ste. Marie. Thank you Lindy!!!
At the border our bags got shaken out, of course, but we made it through. On the American side hitching is, apparently, illegal, or so everybody says. For us, though, it was easy to get about 70 miles covered that day. The next morning a semi picked us up, and we stayed with him for almost two days! Paul was a very kind guy, he gave us a few great tips on hitching around here and tried his very best at rounding up a ride for us using his CB radio.We have decided to take the most southern route we can - I-80 to be warm and dry!
Paul dropped us off in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and from here a friend of his will pick us up tomorrow morning and drive us to Omaha, Nebraska.
It's much warmer down here than up in Northern Ontario!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We are going north to go south!

The first stop in our south-bound journey, ironically enough, happened to be Emsdale, ON. There, our new friends Mark and Rachel and their dog Scout greeted us with warmth of their wood stove and a few shots of vodka and a pickle. Good stuff!!!
We went on a three day, two night canoe trip with them. It was great. Experienced campers themselves, Mark and Rachel picked a great lake to camp on - miles away from any dwelling, smack on in the middle of a crown land patch. This is the view from the campsite in the morning, temperature around -6 C. We were all very excited to build a sweat lodge and have a sweat on the first night we were there. It was a cold night, maybe -6C and it was so nice inside a warm wickiup with several hot rocks inside a small stone stove. Learning a few tricks from the night before we have all decided to repeat the procedure the next day! In this warm, well insulated shelter with no drafts, sitting on a nice mat of cedar branches , pouring hot tea made with pine, sweet fern and cedar twigs on a dozen of glowing red stones we have discovered something else!!! Of course jumping in the lake that was nearby was an obvious thing to do! Oh, it was a good sweat, thank you guys for making it happen! The framework behind us is the sweatlodge.
After we parted with Mark and Rachel, we stopped in North Bay for the weekend, at Jeremy and Lucy's place. Here, we rested well, went to the waterfront and hiked in the nearby forest. The sunset was magestic that evening!
We saw a year-old buck there, it was so big and so close to us! Jeremy and Lucy, thank you so much for hosting us on these cold nights!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Setting out of Brampton

We are packing our bags once again - this time we're heading north to Sault Ste Marie (that road again!) where we cross over to the States and then we hope to go to Oregon, California, Utah and Arizona.
There is frost on the ground already, so we packed a few extra warm clothes - but there won't be any bugs, that's a huge plus!
Wish us luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Colours of Thompson

As we were slowly and painfully making our way through Alberta, we have received an invitation from our friends up in Thompson, MB, to visit. Why not? said we and decided to make the little detour and hang out in the self-proclaimed "Hub of the North". The road from the prairies to the northern wilderness was smooth. In Alberta, we met a fellow hitch-hiker, a prospector, as his business-card states, who was on his way to the East coast. We rode in two vehicles with him, and camped two nights together! A highly unlikely coincidence on the road, you know. This is him, playing his guitar to oncoming traffic:

We read a lot on our way to Thompson:

When we arrived, the table was set, and a most delicious roast was waiting for us in the oven: vegetarianism aside, we could not decline such a treat! Tolik and Lusine had a whole schedule worked out for our visit: on the first day, we took the grand tour of Thompson and had a huge pike for lunch. Our friends own a pair of elegant fishing rods, which they put to a good use - their freezer is literally stuffed with fillets of pike and wall eye. Next, we went for a two-night walk-in-the-woods to see the tallest falls in all of Manitoba - a lot of true northern beauty!

For the last day, our hosts saved the best: a tour of the mining operations around the town. First, we went to pound out some tunes out of the rock. The holes are filled with water to different levels. Some of them sound pretty cool!

The holes are test drills of this beastly machine

I tried to run it, but it wouldn't work, estie!

We also visited a closed-down mine which boasts a tallest tower in North America (too bad that it only operated for a WEEK),

a pit that turned into a lake,

a working nickel mine, the main employer in town,

a nearby tailings pond
(notice the intense indigo - no photo editing here! Just a high concentration of copper arsenic)and some other equally impressive features.

Tomorrow we sail off - a day before Tolik's birthday! It was a great pleasure for us to stay at their place. Thank you for all your hospitality, amazing food and good times, we'll see you at your next location, wherever that may be!