Hitchhiking to San Carlos for a Boat and Relaxation

Mexico was now on our minds, waking up in the rare hotel room there in Southern California. A friend I'd met in Utah some years back turned me on to a boat down in San Carlos, a trimaran that was being treated as a nomad base with hopes of becoming a floating hostel, this was enough motivation for us to go seek it out.

A girl I hadn't seen since high school and mainly middle school lived nearby, she came and picked us up so we could go grab a bite and catch up on the years gone by. We eventually landed at a taco spot by the ocean, her talking about her photography, me about my travels, both about the people we mutually remembered.

After this visit back in time she dropped Marilyn and I off at White Labs, a little further south and our last known stop in California. White Labs produces yeast for a huge amount of homebrewers and commercial breweries, this was their taproom of sorts, a beer geek's dream. They'd brew a single batch of beer and then separate it into several fermentation vessels with different yeast strains, once complete people like myself could come in and taste the differences back to back via sampler glasses.

We spent a little time there, geeking out with our bartender about yeast and beer in general, but soon we answered the call to the road. We saddled up our packs and hiked the short distance to the freeway, heading east towards Arizona where we planned to drop down the Mexican border.

We waited all of fifteen minutes before a car glided into the shoulder beyond us, we ran up to and I peeked in before opening the door, in the drivers seat was our bartender from White Labs, she smiled and we both hopped in. She was actually heading towards Ocean Beach in San Diego, but the coincidence and good conversation had her pointing west instead, happy to help us get past the cityscape to a better hitching spot. We'd gotten past Alpine by the time she dropped us off and decided to turn back for home, plenty more yeast, beer and distilling talk now fresh in our minds.

A ride in a beater car towards Campo came next, then a guy heading to the Acorn Casino. Once at that spot we climbed up to the highway itself and got to walking while thumbing the cars as they passed us. As darkness seemed imminent our focus became more on finding a reasonable spot along the road to camp for the night. Just when we saw something promising ahead, at least worth exploring, a minivan pulled over.

Inside were two quirky women heading to Mexicali. We rode into the darkness with them, but eventually hopped out when they turned south, Mexicali was the border crossing best for us, particularly not when we'd likely be marooned somewhere in the middle of the city tired and without any daylight.

We stepped out into the heat of the desert and began walking and orienting ourselves. Even in the relative darkness we could see that was nothing resembling a tree in sight, nowhere to camp, even streetlights and civilization seemed distant. We did the only thing we could, keep walking and hope we'd eventually find some place to tuck away or let some magic happen as it may.

Magic came first, this time in the form of an eighteen wheeler pulling over and waving us down with flashlight.

"Are you guys crazy?", the trucker asked.

"No", we laughed, "Although right now it kinda feels like it".

We hopped up into the truck, his younger co-driver was in the passenger seat, they were bound for Boston. They were a bit of an odd couple, not seeming to entirely get along, just putting up with each other for now. We sleepily rode with them until a junction town where we'd part ways in the middle of the night.

Marilyn had already booked a hotel room after determining that the desert heat would leave little in the way of hidden camping. The hotel room, increasingly less rare, I was getting used to Marilyn's slightly higher standards matched with a greater access to cash than I was accustomed to. She would normally also have no problem with sleeping in the bushes off a busy highway, but in cases like this she was ready to make it easy, I couldn't complain.

In the morning we were rested, clean, back on the road. I got a message from Ryan then, the guy who owned the boat we were heading for, I still hadn't met him. As it turned out he wasn't going to be there by the boat, he had some adventure of his own to take care of, but he let me know where the keys were and about a friend he'd made on shore that was happy to meet with travelers.

The first ride of the day was a trucker heading to the Nogales border, a great start. We actually still had a couple mile walk to the border from where he dropped us off, then walking across the border itself was as casual as entering Mexico ever is. Nobody looked at us, said anything, nothing, it's like walking into a grocery store that doesn't have a greeter. We were in Mexico.

We walked through the streets for a good while, it seemed like it would go forever, we were eager to get to a spot we could hitchhike from before dark hit. Finally we reached a spot with a bit of a pullout and posted up. We waited a good while without getting a ride, the sun was going down and we determined we had to start walking to either get to a better spot or begin making our way out of town towards an area we could camp.

Right as we got to walking a guy got our attention, he'd been in his parked car just nearby. He asked were we were going and then offered us a ride to get south of the city. He cruised along as he told us about a trucking company he owned, he even tried calling around to see if anyone was heading south, but to no avail. We reached a busy checkpoint area where he was going to drop us off, right then he saw one of his trucks in the stopped line of vehicles waiting to get through the checkpoint.

A phone call and a mad dash and we were hopping up into the truck that was going further south than we were, we thanked the guy and introduced ourselves to the trucker and kid son, neither of which spoke English, but my Spanish was enough to get the basics across.

Marilyn rode in back with the kid, he even offered up his pillow for her to sleep on, I sat up front fading in and out of sleep, exchanging thoughts with the trucker here and there as we cruised deep into the night.

Hours later he let us out at our junction, just ten miles from where we were headed, he was continuing hours and hours further south. We got to walking through the night, not much for headlights coming our way this hour. We walked for a good while exploring our camping options, finally finding a spot just at the entrance of town back from the road where could set up the tent and happily pass out.

We got a quick and short ride in the morning that got us to the marina. We oriented ourselves there and walked along the beach until we got to Sarah's house, the woman Ryan had told us about. A hungover and freshly drunk handyman working at her house greeted us, pointing us inside towards her. She was a slightly older woman, friendly even though Ryan hadn't given her a heads up that two travelers were going to burst in like we did.

We sat with her for a while drinking coffee, she was interested in hearing some hitchhiking stories, she shared some of Ryan's stories as well. After a while she pointed us to the nearby dock where we could find a dinghy to get out to the boat.

We walked just up the dirt road and found the dock with a little dinghy tied up, deflated and sad looking. We found ourselves a pump and blew it up best we could, hopped in and started paddling towards the nearby trimaran. We barely made it, the dinghy was about fully deflated again once we reached the boat.

We hopped aboard and unlocked the cabin and took a look inside. It was a fair sized boat, but it was immediately clear that turning it into a hostel was some wishy washy dream, the thing was not in great shape for one, but more importantly it lacked sleeping space for anymore than just a few guests, packed tight at that.

All the same it was a boat floating nicely in the beautiful bay and we were excited to be there in the heat. I found myself a nice shady spot up on deck and took a needed nap, afterwards we grabbed another dinghy that was on the boat and lowered it into the water. It had it's own problems, it was basically a big inner tube, but at least it floated. We paddled that back to shore and headed back to Sarah's.

Marilyn took advantage of the internet access and we both got showers in, then headed back for the dinghy and paddled slowly across the bay to the marina. We found ourselves some ice cream, a place to sip some beer and then a place to pick up some cans to bring back to the boat.

We were in full sleepy relaxation mode on the boat, soaking it all up. Marilyn headed back to shore for a bit, returning from Sarah's with some meat she'd made up that we chowed on. Blue skies turned to sunset canvas and then to stars. Soon Marilyn went into the cabin to sleep, too hot for me, I stayed in my spot above deck enjoying the occasional breeze as I drifted to sleep.

No sooner had I drifted did I hear the light splashing of something approaching, my ears perked up. My Doree days had me thinking it was a sea lion, I heard it then splash up onto the back of the boat... a person I now thought.

"Hello?", I question aloud into the night.

"Hi!", a dripping, naked body appeared in front of me, introducing himself as Jake. He took a seat next to me looking content, home.

Turns out he was a good friend of Ryan's and had spent a great deal of time on this boat, it was a bit of a home base for him. He'd just hitched down from Tucson and arrived now, in the middle of the night, abandoning his clothes at the dock to swim out to the boat, not expecting to see anyone else, but also not a bit surprised.

He had stories of just having spent some time at a "gainer farm", the result of a hitchhiking ride related side adventure. Apparently a gainer, as he just learned and was now relaying to me, was a girl packing on pounds by the hundred in order to sexually please her lover and at least in this case, thousands of internet viewers. He'd spent a day or so in that world before getting himself back on the road, and now the water. We talked for a bit, Marilyn shouted a hello of acknowledgment from below, then all faded to sleep once again.

After a paddle to Sarah's in the morning Marilyn and I hitched an easy ride into town, we found ourselves a place by the water to grab some food and a few margaritas. I was convinced that nobody told these particular Mexicans what a jalapeno popper or a mozzarella stick was, they were over the top amazing and huge, a true representation of what they could be. That and some fish tacos, a feast really, a shot of tequila to cap it and we were content to head out for a wander along the beach.

We got ourselves a bottle of tequila before he hitched another easy ride back and relaxed at Sarah's, then it was back to the boat for some swimming around a while, some business below deck, a nap, tequila, swimming again, enjoying the bay the best way we knew how. Back to Sarah's, back to the boat by sunset, beers and hitch stories with Jake as the stars arrived, all was right.

Later I laid on deck with Marilyn, she'd learned the heated lesson from her night of sleeping below deck. Some stormy winds came through, a light rain that didn't touch us much, a show really, we laid quietly taking it all in, rocking gently.

"I love you", Marilyn whispered, "I love This".

If she hadn't quite settled into a sense of freedom yet, that was surely the moment when she did, where bliss became the canvas in which to further add brush strokes of experience. We rocked, and swayed and drifted into the new understanding.

We got on the radio in the morning when all the boats started talking to each other, putting the word out that we were looking to sail, but no takers. Back to Sarah's relaxing, then the four of us hitched the opposite direction from town where Sarah showed us a bar on the beach that had been expanding rapidly, a ride in the back of a pickup truck had us all smiling, Sarah was thrilled to hitch a ride.

After some drinks by the beach we got walking towards the main road, a passing golf cart let us pile on and saved us some time, then we hitched another ride in the back of a pickup. Sarah decided to walk back to her house, the three of us hitched another passing pickup truck to town, and then another ride in a minivan from a friendly guy to the grocery store.

Marilyn picked up a few things and Jake went around back, returning with a grin and a box he'd found by the dumpster full of perfectly good mangoes, which were about his favorite thing on the planet. The guy in the minivan waited for us and let us pile in the boxes, then drove us out to a fish camp Jake knew about. We approached them hoping for fish, the local guys smiled and laughed, "Hey-Zeus!", they said pointing at Jake. They had no fish, but happily shared some tacos with us.

The minivan continued to be helpful, taking us back to Sarah's where we came up the stairs and showed her the haul, she already had rice and beans going. We ate and drank and talked into the night, eventually crashing in her spare bedroom for the night, Jake out on the deck, a change of pace from the boat.

In the morning Sarah biked to town and we followed her hitching yet another ride, once there we got some ice cream as we walked around posting notes at the public laundry and yacht club further hoping to score a ride or a day sailing, then hitched a ride back to the house for some fish with mango sauce.

Back to town again via the back of a passing pickup truck, back to the yacht club where there was now a guy at a desk to talk to. He didn't know of any boats taking off, but pointed us to the nearby dry dock where someone was working on a boat and may be sailing a ways soon. We found the boat, but no one was there and we left a note, a thirty eight footer owned by some Canadian guy.

Margaritas seemed good after this, one here, one there, some snacks and then a hitched ride back to Sarah's. She was already asleep when we got in, we finished up what was left of our tequila stash and soon did the same.

We planned to take off the next day, to head back up to the US and on to the next thing. We could have stayed a while and seen if the boat thing would pan out, but Marilyn only had so many weeks until needing to be back to Indiana and return to work, I only had so much patience for stagnancy, however relaxing it may be.

It was a brief trip, but a good one. Mexico is often a relaxing time, but now it was on to the next adventure.

July 9, 2013 to July 14, 2013