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January 31, 1997

Dawn - Oxnard beach, Southern California

31 Jan 1997:

We wake with the dawn as usual, no idea of the real time as 'real' time has no relevance on the road; our days and nights begin and end with celestial bodies like the sun, the moon and the stars - the most 'real' time keepers of all.

Last night we blundered through the dark to find this spot (see photo 1) on the beach to sleep. The only criteria at the time being somewhere dark enough so we became invisible to anyone intent on relieving us of our gear. The last few nights we have slept on the beach - its free, secluded and apart from the sand that gets everywhere (and I mean everywhere!!), its great to sleep with the ocean murmuring sweet nothings in your ear, then wake to crashing surf, delicate pink first-light and a half crescent of moon still suspended in the sky. Then to run naked into the ice cold ocean. Incredibly invigorating even though one half of you is in total revolt at the idea of getting out of a lovely warm sleeping bag into freezing cold water. The other half knows better though; this is the intuitive half that doesn't seem at first to know best, but always makes the better decision if trusted with blind faith.

The first wave that hits reminds me that I am live - YES, REALLY ALIVE !!!!. The next hits me in the chest and punches the air out of my lungs, forcing me to gasp for precious oxygen - the same as those first few breaths taken at birth. In a sense it's a reminder of that unique miracle - of being alive on this planet; an experience we all undertake, but which few truly appreciate.

One dunking is enough - there's a limit to how alive I want to feel at this time in the morning! I stride out of the water feeling like a freshly baptised viking beach warrior - naked of course. At the same time a gradual sensation of all round glow and warmth spreads throughout my body. I run the last 100 feet back to the sleeping bags to avoid being laughed at by two old ladies with their yappy little dogs that are advancing up the beach. Hopping on one leg...still dripping wet...struggling to get sand encrusted feet through my bicycling shorts...a disastrous exercise. I should just assume that the ladies have seen it all before (which they have) and lay out to dry all exposed in my own time Four months in San Francisco has made me too damn PC for my own good. Oh well - it'll be an interesting day biking with sand grinding away in my bike shorts.

Jenny has a cup of steaming hot English tea on offer by the time I get back (we have to have the bags specially imported from the UK). The seagulls are flocking around us like hyenas in the hope of snagging some of the left-overs from our supper last night. A couple of them execute low bombing runs over our heads - perhaps as a decoy for the ground forces to sweep in and secure the bread and mayonnaise, perhaps purely as intimidation. They remind me of the sceaming, squabbling gulls in 'Jonathon Livingston Seagull'. Ollie lobs a sandal in the air - the gulls mistake it for a juicey 10 oz stake and they all scramble for it - only to find 30 seconds later they're fighting over a smelly old shoe. It provides some entertainment for a while. Enough any way to keep our minds off Carole's porridge that seems to be an interesting blend of oatmeal, water and - guess what - SAND!!!


Posted at 5:43 AM

January 24, 1997

Big Sur in the Rain

Jan 24th 1997:

Rough, rugged, rocky, windswept, wild. The Big Sur Coast. Our first hurdle en route to Peru. Today, we’re relaxing in a coffee house in San Luis Obispo; catching up on writing and absorbing San Luis culture on Higuera Avenue. Eight days ago, we packed our bicycles and set off on leg three: Monterey, California, United States to Lima, Peru. From Peru, Jason will pedal Moksha solo 11,000 miles to the Marquesas in the Pacific.

Today, we are four: Jason, Carol, Oli, and me, Jenny. These first few days of travelling, we’ve been learning our bicycles, life on the road, and each other. The trip already has been filled with wonderful, gracious people, exciting adventures, and hilly bicycling. Oli and Carol are from France and they flew to San Francisco, CA to participate on this part of the expedition. I am from Redwood City, CA. The trail ahead will take us through deserts, rainforests, mountains and at least one jungle without a road.

The journey so far can be split up into two environments: the Big Sur Coast, where Highway 1 stretches along the rugged cliffs above the Pacific, and the San Luis Coast, where the hills roll gently next to the sea and between old volcanoes. At the Big Sur Coast, small, sandy beaches form in seclusion between wave-beaten rocky points and steep slopes. Highway 1 exists in many places only through sheer human will. Rainy winters release rocky mudslides that cover the road or undercut the pavement until it falls into the sea. Here, also, Highway 1 is traversed only by locals and tourists, and this time of year, the mudslides prevent tourists from passing over parts. Further south, near San Luis Obispo, Highway 1 is a main thoroughfare, with two busy lanes shuttling people and goods north and south. One thing that stands out in both areas is the intense green that spreads over the hills in celebration of the wet winter.

Those are some of my thoughts about the trip so far, but before I continue, I will describe myself so you can put my images into some sort of context. I met Jason and Oli about a month ago when Jason gave a talk about he expedition at a yacht club near my home. I went to the talk because I had been thinking about taking a long distance trip by bicycle for some time. Some of the things Jason talked about struck a chord with me, and I thought that it was something I could really do someday. He said that they were inviting other people to travel for all or part of the leg to Peru, no experience necessary. I did some research, both within myself and in the world around me and decided to jump. It is going to be a challenge for me in many respects. Long distance bicycling with heavy panniers (saddlebags for bikes) and nomadic travelling are both new to me. Already, there have been some hard times, like when we pedalled by moonlight in the rain. That night, the only sounds I heard were waves crashing on rocks below, my own breathing, water splashing up from my tires, though I strained to hear signs of the muddy cliffs slipping down into the road. There have also been magical times. A woman named Anne invited us to stay at her cabin in Big Sur. The first night, her neighbor let us soak in his hot tub overlooking the Pacific. We spent a fantastic few days there while bulldozers cleared the highway. I am looking forward to the challenges and special moments that lie down the road.

It’s been eight days by the calendar of my watch. For me, my home in Redwood City seems a million miles away. Every day is so new and different that I catch myself laughing while eating couscous in a hotel room with clothes draped over every open space to dry. Happiness comes simply and easily. According to the charts and maps, Peru is unimaginably far away. Such a distant goal that can be achieved by doing a little every day, making the most out of each moment. Suddenly, one day, we’ll be there.

This trip is an opportunity for wild and varied experiences, but as I’m already learning, when you open your body and mind for such adventures, they come to you in many forms. In a way, that is another challenge for me: to be open and optimistic and allow new experiences into my life.

Keep checking here for updates. You’re in our thoughts and we’ll keep posting impressions from the road.

Jenny MacKenzie

Same day - dark, Malibu, California

We're staying at Mick and Stacia's tonight. Mick is planning his own human-powered trip around the planet. He is rowing a 28 ft boat over the seven seas.

The ride today was short, but gorgeous. This part of the coast seems like a softer, gentler version of the Big Sur Coast. Sandstone and mudstone are interlayered and dipping toward the north; the rocks along the road form parallel, diagonal lines.

We saw an interesting site today, as you can see by the photo. Next to the Pacific Coast Highway, there is a park for missiles at the Point Mugu Base. They stand proudly off the ground and aimed into the sky, as if ready to be fired into the enemy's home. An amazing amount of money was poured into these instruments of destruction in the name of peace. The plaque describing one of the missiles said that it cost 1.2 million dollars to build and it was used to transport mail 10 times. Let's see... only $120,000 per mission. What a bargain!

I stood under the weapons designed and built by people to kill people and I felt how insignificant I am. As an American citizen, I've contributed money out of every paycheck to support the development of missiles, airplanes, guns, submarines, ships and bombs. Imagine what else the 1.2 million dollars spent on that one missile could be used for. And $1.2 million doesn't even scratch the surface of the defense budget.

On the other end of the spectrum, we met a man named Eddie Fitzgerald (see photo) who has been bicycling around the USA and Canada for the last 11 years and has pedalled over 106,000 miles of road. He is currently on his way to Vancouver, Canada, where he will lay down his biking shoes. He offered pearls of wisdom to people who would listen. His spirit seemed unaffected by the material world that so many of us demand to be a part of - the world of TV's, stereo surround-sound, fast cars. Eddie claims that he would never hurt another living thing. Perhaps if people with political power would hop on their bikes and ride for 11 years and see the world from the ground level, our defense budget wouldn't have to be so large.


Posted at 5:42 AM

January 13, 1997

Getting Ready

13 Jan 1997:

It's 7:38 am monday 13th January 1997, two days before the wheels start turning once again - this time south across the deserts of northern Mexico, through the rainforests of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, across the road-less Darien Gap in Panama and then up in to the high country of the Andes for the last push to Lima, Peru.

Its here that we'll be launching Moksha for her fourth voyage - 11,000 miles of open ocean to the Marquesas and eventually Australia.


Posted at 5:40 AM

January 1, 1997

From stormy Sausalito

1 Jan 1997:

The rains have relentless and the howling winds caused havoc to the power lines. However we survived and it was a great excuse to remain indoors and tie up the many loose ends before setting out on a final visit to Monterey leaving Moksha in the capable safekeeping of Maritime Museum. A few days for Jason to get himself and his companions into shape for the long and exciting trip on their bicycles through beautiful Southern California en route to Peru.

The last two weeks has proved enormously successful for the Expedition working hard getting the web site sorted out and now the technology to fulfill the commitment to keep in touch with the students across land and sea though out the remainder of journey is just fantastic!!

We trust you are pleased with progress on the web so far, there is lots of goodies to come. How’s that for a Quantum Leap ? E mail. Text and images, pictures and video exchanges, off line editing facilities plus Oliver and Carole our traveling translators (Spanish and French) even Steve will soon have his own laptop to complete his book on time.

So to all the Team who have worked tirelessly to make this possible we say a BIG THANK YOU!

- Stuart Smith and the team

Hi! Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work to work we go With a shovel and a pick, but without the walking stick Hi Ho Hi Ho

Posted at 5:39 AM