I-10, Our Nation’s Seemingly Endless Artery

Around Phoenix we caught I-10, the highway that flows from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL. We pick this route during the winter because there is nearly zero chance for ice or snow. Anything north and your chances get worse. The first thing that comes to memory about this highway has to be that it is really, really straight and boring for many hours.

I try to pick out the subtile differences hidden under the homogenous American highway culture. Two nights ago while driving through the dark, I pondered upon the different words used for a small tributary of a watershed. What we call an arroyo in coastal California changes to a wash once you arrive in the Sonora Desert. I can see why, because when the rain falls, everything (especially the trash) washes down.

All this came to mind as I crossed the great divide somewhere in New Mexico and western Texas and I noticed a new term, draw. It looked identical to a wash, but now on the eastern side of these huge mountains, its name has changed. I guess here in Texas after a big storm, the water draws off the land (it doesn’t appear to wash anything).

We’re on our way to Houston where I believe our hydraulic feature of a landscape assumes the much more widespread term creek. In the comming days we’ll continue to chug along I-10, passing hundreds of more creeks, until we arrive in Florida, sometime next week.

We managed to make a nice detour from the interstate, bypassing the sprawl of San Antonio. For the second year in a row we visited Guadalupe River State Park in Texas. It seemed even more beautiful than we remembered it. Check out the pics below. We highly recommend visiting the Texas hill country if you find yourself in the area.

We woke this morning to a young kid’s voice talking to his father. They were walking by our camper, parked in a campsite at the state park. “That’s not camping”, said the boy. “Camping is when you get out. That’s not camping one bit!”. We both cracked up laughing. What a way to start the day.


Santa Cruz to Arizona

...until we meet again Santa Cruz.

It took an incredible amount of energy and some help from some of our closest friends to get us on the road last Saturday morning. After driving the entire length of the Salinas Valley, we made our first stop near Santa Maria. We drove the back roads and saw the fields planted with broccoli, cauliflower, and strawberries. The berry season will begin here in just a few weeks. The growers here aim for the early window of production, about four to six weeks earlier than the production starts in Santa Cruz county.

Coastal mountains of Santa Barbara county.

John’s job didn’t take long and we headed south into Santa Barbara county. While Amy was driving John kept looking for some surf potential. Somewhere west of Santa Barbara he turned his head all the way around to watch a nice set peel for over 100 yards, down a wind-protected point. Within 10 minutes he had his board rigged and was headed towards the water. It didn’t take long to satisfy his surf appetite, about five really nice waves. Before dark we were back on the highway and headed towards LA to visit Amy’s relatives.

Gettin' 5 on it...

From LA we traveled south and then east, eventually arriving in Arizona. We drove through the desert, passing date groves rising out of the dry earth. Here in the south eastern corner of California begins the agricultural oasis. The crops of baby spinach, spring mix, head lettuce, and celery grow best here at this time of year. The low desert’s mild winter weather keeps the supermarkets supplied with cool season produce from November until March. The dry air makes the pathogens and pests nearly non-existent in comparison to anywhere else in the US.

Afternoon SoCal lighting.

We followed the highway east, into the Gila river valley. We found a great spot to camp at Painted Rocks SP (free at this time of year). The spot is known for the unique petroglyphs left by two groups of people. They used small rocks to carve off the dark surface of boulders, exposing the lighter mineral inside. The rocks are part of a pile of boulders deposited in the middle of the valley, by a volcano to the SW.

Next post in a few days…

Santa Cruz Surf

Back to where we started a little over a year ago. We traveled up and down the Mexican and California Coastlines, as well as the southern portion of Taiwan. In all of my travels, I haven’t found place with more variety, consistency, and quality of waves than Santa Cruz. The waves lured me here in 2005 when I first started visiting while living in Davis. Once I got the taste, I eventually found a way to live here and fulfill my longest surf trip yet – about five years in a row.

What is it that makes this place so good? The coastline offers a diversity of points, reefs, and beaches that can have completely different wind and wave exposures. That means that almost any day of the year, decent surf can be found somewhere. Time and time again I tell myself and others, “If I was in Florida, I would be surfing that right now” or “in Florida this would be an epic day”.

Santa Cruz surfers get spoiled real quick. They constantly pass up mediocre waves in search of the best conditions (I’m just as guilty of this as anybody here). All it really takes to stay in the water daily here is a little creativity in board riding, plenty of stoke, and a moderate amount of patience. With a hungry eye, you can find a nice peeler around some not-so-crowded corners of this Surf City. Or you can go hop in the water with 100 of your most aggressive friends at the Lane.