Learning to surf

Last Updated on Monday, 16 January 2012 07:26 Written by Chris Marzonie Monday, 16 January 2012 07:26

Current location:  Mulege, Baja Sur
Days in Baja so far:  30

When I was in high school I used to bus tables in a restaurant with a gregarious waiter named Gordon, an ex-wrestler with a New York accent. He always stoked up the guests with his outrageous humor and antics. If I happened to be passing by at the right time, he would make some off-hand comment about the “surfer boy” and pull me aside as a prop for his routine. “Do you realize this guy is a world-class champion surfer? Look at him!” I guess there was something to it because most of the time people believed him and started asking questions. I would shake my head, smile politely and suddenly find myself needed elsewhere on the floor. I always liked working with Gordon, there were lots of laughs and lots of tips.

But there was something to the whole surfer notion. It’s just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. Naturally, I got fired up while talking to my friend Robb about this trip and the potential surfing opportunities, when he offered to loan me one of his boards. Yes! It would be come a reality.  Make it so.

Robb was kind enough to loan me not just a board, but the leash for it and a full wetsuit with a rash guard. Board happily mounted to the rack on my Toyota, smile firmly plastered across my face, we both crossed the border into Baja together, destined to become good friends. That was a month ago. I figured I might not get on that surfboard until I got to Central America where I’ve been told it’s a great place to learn with soft sand bottoms and warm water. But like most plans on this trip, that was definitely subject to change.

After departing Ensenada Alcatraz on the Cortez side of the peninsula, I headed over to the central coast of the Pacific to meet friends Jack, Debbie and Linda. Jack has some property there and it was my first visit. Little did I know that his property sits right at what could possibly be the best place in Baja for learning to surf. My anticipated four day stay lasted instead for eleven. But I only surfed two days. The first few days were spent waiting for my friends to arrive. The next few were spent watching experienced surfers who had come down to ride big swells. I studied a lot. I befriended an accomplished surfer named George who lives there most of the year. He was an inspirational guy and happy to offer me some great tips and advice.

The big swells came and went, and so did the crowd. Some days the weather wasn’t good or the water wasn’t right. But then the perfect day came. This was it. As I floundered about in the break, I watched George sail past me over and over… his board like a dance floor that he set upon with flair. He was perfectly free…smiling ear-to-ear. He was doing the circuit. He’d ride a breaking wave from way out by the point all the way in to shore, hoist the board into the air, and walk/run along the beach and then the rocks, wading and paddling back out to the point. “You want to ride a wave every 15 minutes” he told me. I’m not really riding waves yet, so to speak, but I can stand up and coast a bit. I’ll get the hang of it.

Surfing was only a part of my eleven-day camp session. Jack took me out on a tour of some local 4wd desert trails to see some sites. We also played a lot of what I have come to think of as my absolute favorite remote campsite game, ever (yes, better than poker): All-terrain bocce ball. Jack, Linda, and I would set out on the beach or the mesas, or in the dunes… you name it, and come up with some pretty amazing plays. I added a little atmosphere by hanging a couple Goal Zero “Rock Out” speakers from my belt with the iPod strapped in for the ride, playing endless tunes for the game. I helped do some rock moving and wall building. I learned how a mud oven is built out of local, natural materials (and saw some great pizza coming out of it). There were lots of things to do and 11 days went by pretty fast.

Many thanks to Jack, Debbie and Linda for the fantastic hospitality and good times.

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Hello 2012 (from Baja)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 January 2012 10:48 Written by Chris Marzonie Tuesday, 3 January 2012 10:46

I sure have missed Baja. I’ve done many trips to Mexico over the past four years but none have been to the famous peninsula and I really wanted to get back to it.  2011 was a bittersweet year but one that allowed me the opportunity to start doing some solo traveling.  I left Prescott, AZ in mid-September and have been on the road, more-or-less, since then.  I’m writing this blog from Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California.  I’ve spent the past few weeks visiting friends in San Diego, Tijuana/Rosarito, and along the coast in Baja.  I hope to post some photos along the way, as I travel further south. How far south am I going? Hmm… what the heck… I’m thinking maybe Panama. We’ll see if I make it that far. There is a lot to see between here and there.

Christmas week and New Years was spent camped at Ensenada Alcatraz.  I have a solar panel for the truck now, and I have to say it has made a big difference.  Along with the Oz Tent it makes the beach bungalow setup just downright comfy. Two weeks at a shot is definitely possible (water and food being the potential limitation), which isn’t bad for a little Toyota truck.

A Happy New Year to all.  Let’s have fun with it!

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Tufa and Granite

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 December 2010 10:08 Written by Chris Marzonie Sunday, 12 December 2010 09:58

It was unseasonably warm today in Prescott, so my friend Matt Turner and I hatched a plan to go see an enormous formation of exposed granite near Yava, Arizona. Unfortunately, the whole area was locked up tighter than a drum, so Matt took me on a hike through an area of silica-rich volcanic tufa near Kirkland. The wind and water had done a magnificent job at sculpting the rock. We hiked back into an area that Matt had seen on aerial maps to scout for some new slots or gorges, but did not encounter any. It was warm enough for me to hike without a shirt (in mid-December) – nice! After our hike, Matt headed back to Prescott and I went on to explore some new-to-me 4WD roads near Skull Valley. After many miles of bumpy low-range and a few steep climbs, I discovered a valley rich with granite boulders and studded with pine and oak. The day was getting away, so I headed out on a power line road and enjoyed the last light of the sun as it turned the west side of Granite Mountain a beautiful shade of pink. Sometimes local adventure is the best adventure.

Tufa rock

Tufa formations near Kirkland, AZ

Wild tufa formation

A wild tufa sculpture

walking into wonderland

Walking into wonderland

Matt Turner, photographer

Matt Turner above the tufa canyon

limestone hydraulics

Hydraulic stone sculpture

Prickley pear

Prickley Pear cactus, Kirkland Peak in the background

Matt Turner

Yea, it looks like he's offering a pack of cigs to the Marlboro god, but that's really a camera.

Toyota Tacoma in Granite Basin

Winding my way back into the "other" Granite Basin

Chock full of granite, pines, juniper and oak

Chock full of granite, pines, juniper and oak

cattle tank reflection

Funny how light and color can make a muddy cattle tank look good

Tacoma and granite rocks

The Tacoma with some ruggedly beautiful granite for a backdrop

Late afternoon sun on granite

Late afternoon sun on granite

Windmill silhouette

Windmill silhouettes in front of Granite Mountain near Prescott, AZ

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