The trip back: La Paz to Salinas

There are daily flights from La Paz back to the Bay Area. But I hate flying with a bike. I decided to take the slower option. One less international flight. One more travel adventure.

The nice thing about the bus is that there’s no need to dismantle the bike. Or even pay extra for it. All I had to do was take off the front wheel. Which, I learned from a bearded white guy on YouTube, is super simple. I bought a couple of cheap plastic travel bags to stuff all my gear in. I also brought about a week’s worth of candy and empenadas and other snacks.

The ride to Tijuana takes 24 hours exactly. Not an easy bus ride. The seats were comfie but the road was bumpy. And long. The most interesting part was stopping at a military checkpoint in the middle of the night and watching the soldier dog inspect all the luggage. By the time we got to Ensenada, the rain had started falling. Just a light rain but more or less all day. I had a five mile ride from the TJ bus station to the border. No big deal, right? Just follow the google maps.

Except no, because, omg, water was everywhere. I guess Tijuana has a little drainage problem. My five mile ride nearly turned into a swim. The sidewalks and gutters were completely flooded with swirls of dank dirty water. Sometimes waterfalls spewed across the road. I charged through, certain I would be swept off a cliff. Cars drove by, splashing up brown waves that crashed over my head. I clamped my mouth shut to keep the poo water out. I was soaked through ten times over by the time I got to the border. At least I didn’t have to wait in line with the cars.

The border guard told me to take off ALL my bags and put them through the X-ray machine. I resorted to whining. “It’s really hard to get all the bags on and off,” I told him. “Can’t you just look inside them? I’m really cold.” Anyway, it worked.

I took the trolley to downtown San Diego. This trolley, I’m happy to report, has been upgraded since 2004. The old trolley had horrible steep stairs and when I hefted my loaded touring bike aboard, it nearly toppled me over backwards. The new trolleys are much nicer, with proper low floors. I found my downtown hostel with just a little hassle.

That was the first leg. The Amtrak left San Diego before sunrise. I made it out to the street with plenty of time for the 1/2 mile ride to the station. The first train left on time. The Pacific was wild, churned up to a brown foamy froth. I had an hour or so at LA Union Station to observe the morning commute crowd passing through the gorgeous old style station. The rain kept falling and our late start turned into more delays. I’ve never seen water in the LA river before.

I treated myself to lunch in the dining car and then spent the rest of the day staring out the window at rare green California hills. Maybe it’s not high speed rail, but the view from the Pacific coast train tracks is unbeatable.

A mere 52 hours after leaving La Paz, my mom picked up at the Salinas train station.

The next morning I caught this picture of my parents’ house at the end of a rainbow.

4 thoughts on “The trip back: La Paz to Salinas

  1. Thanks for the stories! I have loved following your Baja blog. You rock, Gretchen. Good luck in the next Korea chapter!

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  2. What a great trip. I hope it was everything you hoped for. Loved all the stories and wonderful pictures. And all the cat and other animal pics. Especially cats!. Seemed like you met such nice people and I an sure that you could speak Spanish made them even more welcoming toward you.

    I can’t wait until your next adventure. My next adventure is a cruise in the West Indies starting in Puerto Rico. I have never been to the Caribbean.

    Pat Steinfeld

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