Wednesday, July 20, 2011

day thirty eight

July 17th
San Diego to US/Mexican border, then back to San Diego
44 miles

Up at 6AM.  Walked down to take advantage of the continental breakfast.  Coffee, muffins and pastries.  Got nice myself nice and full.

Looked online and found ferry to Coronado doesn't start running until 9AM.  Sat around and relaxed for a while, since I was about 15 minutes away from the ferry dock.  Made some coffee in the room.  Can't believe this is the last day.  Still not excited like I thought I'd be, still a lot of miles to go I guess.  Tire almost flat again, added air.

Left around 8:30, hoping to make it to the dock around quarter to 9.  Ended up getting lost though, took a wrong turn off the bike path.  Eventually got on track.  Passed through the waterfront park, some sort of Jaguar car show starting.  Some beautiful E-types which are one of my favorite cars of all time, and you don't see them too often, at least back home anyway.  Hoping they'll still be there when I'm on my way back.

Saw a guy with a water-jet pack thingy messing around in marina.  Never seen one before, looks like fun.  Guy can't get very high though.

Hauled ass to ferry dock, almost 9.  Got to dock just in time to see it pulling away - 9:03AM.  Shit, next ferry at 10.  Got coffee at Bayside Cafe, stared at map forever.  Anxious.  18 miles to the border.  Tire low again, filled it up.

Ferry came in, we loaded on and headed to Coronado.  Passed aircraft carrier, which is a floating museum now (can't remember ship name).  Lots of other cool ships.  Going to be another nice day.

Got to Coronado, very nice park along the water.  Bike path all the way to last town before border, Imperial Beach.  Long ride, lots other bikers but nobody touring.  Arrived in Imperial Beach and starting riding through the city.  Stopped at a gas station to get a few Snickers since I didn't have any food on me.  Noticed a Carls Jr right across the street, a perfect place to stop for lunch on the way back.

As I neared the border, the town got sketchier.  Roads deteriorated, half covered with sand.  Kept riding out to "border monument", as my map calls it, but there are no signs for it.  Not sure what to expect.  Passed 4 or 5 border patrol agents with horses.  Passed one that was on a mountain bike.  Definitely feel their presence here.

Kept going down the dilapidated road that my map shows paralleling the border to the coast.  I see "The Fence" for the first time.  Stiff wind coming from the West.  Arrived at the border 'park' and looked around.  Everything is abandoned, rest area, visitor center.  Not a soul down here.  Eerie feeling.  Rode down to the beach and took some pictures of the ocean.

Headed up a small hill towards The Fence.  Video cameras, spotlights, and antennas everywhere.  Spotted a border patrol agent eying me a few hundred yards away.  Walked over to where he was and asked if it was okay if I take some pictures against the fence.  Told him I came from the Canadian border but he didn't seem too impressed.  Gave me a serious look like "what in the fuck are you doing here?" and then said it was fine to take a few pictures.

Walked over to my bike and road over to the fence.  I looked over to see where the border patrol guy was but I didn't see him anymore.  Took a few pictures and touched the fence.  Surreal.  Quiet.  Wish I could describe the feeling that I had but I didn't know how.  Was a mix of being sad, lonely, proud, isolated and anxious to get the hell out of there.  Wishing I could have high-fived some friends or something.

A few minutes later I heard something off in the distance.  Someone on an ATV, border patrol I assumed, was coming my way.  He drove up to me as I was getting my bike of the fence.  He lifted up his visor and said something like "so... what exactly are you doing here?" I told him, and also said that I'd asked permission from the other border patrol guy.  I pointed to him as he was back in view off in the distance.  The agent said taking pictures was fine but I wasn't allowed to be on the road along the fence.  Asked how I got there and I pointed to the small trail that came up from the rest area.  Looked at me funny and kept asking "what trail?"  I pointed again and he said I needed to get off the road.  I think he thought I had ridden the fence road, which I didn't, but I figured someone just saw me on the security cameras and had him check me out.  I literally was probably the only person that was non-border patrol in that 5 square miles.  They were probably just looking for something to do.  He rode over to the other agent and they started talking together while watching me leave.

I got going quickly, looking forward to getting as far away from the area as I could, and eating a big ass cheeseburger.  Hauled ass down the road, passed more border agents.  Helicopter in the air and watched a border patrol Jeep turn into the desert, hauling ass.  Wondered if they were busting someone.

Got back into Imperial Beach, stopped at Carls Jr and treated myself to their Western Bacon six dollar burger.  So good.  Headed back to Coronado, stiff headwind.  Added air to tire, seems to be loosing air quicker now.

Tried to make the 1:30 ferry, ended up missing it by a few minutes again.  Ended up laying on the beach and relaxing for a bit.  Lot more people here now, live music outside at a nearby cafe.  Not a bad place to take a vacation.  Wind has picked up, tons of sailboats in the bay.  Big race boat out, big carbon sails dwarfing everything in the bay.

Ferry finally came and we loaded on again.  PACKED this time.  Took off back to San Diego, had fun watching the sailboats tacking around us.  Arrived back at the pier and headed back to hotel.  Remembered that the bike shop I spoke to about shipping my bike closed at 5PM since it was Sunday, and didn't open until 10AM.  Flight leaves at 1:00PM so I have to get to the shop today.  Raced back to hotel, took more pictures of the Jaguar show, they where doing awards now.

Got to the hotel, stripped the bike of gear.  4:00PM.  Looked up directions online, 6 miles into downtown San Diego.  Hauled ass, eventually got there around 4:30.  Talked with the guy, did paperwork and that was it, 1991 miles all said and done.  Said goodbye to my two-wheeled companion and walked out.

6 miles back, didn't want to walk but didn't want to call a cab.  Just started walking, pretty tired from the day's events.  LONGGGGG walk.  Passed park again, for the fourth time today.  Jaguars gone.  Most people gone.  Guy with jet-pack is back again, getting much higher now.  Didn't have my camera, of course.

Got back to the hotel around 7PM.  TIRED.  Was going to walk to do laundry but too tired and lazy now.  Decided to just buy a shirt tomorrow.  Still need to get my gear shipped home, as the airline charges $25 a bag.  Found a Fedex down the road that opens at 8AM.  Perfect.  Ordered a pizza, hung out in room.  Still doesn't feel like I've done anything significant.  Maybe it will take a while to sink in.  VERY excited to get home, though.  Exhausted, but DONE!

dude with the water-jet pack thing

San Diego

really want to try that thing

Jaguar show

beautiful, sounded amazing!


another E-type, one of my favorite cars of all time

ferry I missed

waiting for the ferry.  Maritime museum to the left and right

on the ferry, headed to Coronado

San Diego, from Coronado

bike path towards Imperial Beach

looking towards Mexico

getting closer

Monument Rd

Monument RD

THE Fence

beach by the border, the fence in the background

shot from the abandoned 'park' at the border

Looking towards Mexico, large stadium is called 'Bullring By the Sea"

at the end of America

back in Coronado

tall ship part of the maritime museum

liveaboards in the harbor

more Jags again


  1. Congratulations!
    'The end of America' does look intimidating...
    The rest is quite picturesque!

  2. Excellent job!!! Sally and I have had a wonderful time following you on your journey. This is an old-folk by the way and fyi, I went to junior high and high school with your Mom. Anyway, we enjoyed this so much because in 1983, we did WA to CA and we found the OR coast to be AMAZING!!! It was a blast! And as you say in your documentation, from Crecent City to SF is amazing and wonderful too. Thanks for the memories and for helping me/us to relive our dream and journey so many years ago. Your pics are wonderful. Excellente!!!