Thursday, July 26, 2007

Adios, for now...

The Bear is going to hibernate for a short while to do some summer traveling and tend to some outdoor projects at the cave (small ranch house) while the good weather smiles upon us.

Before The Bear leaves on his summer trek, I'd like to point the way for you to do some exploring on your own.

In today's LA Times, staff writer Richard Marosi writes about officials in Mexico cracking down on police extortion of tourists on the road between TJ and popular Baja beach destinations. Here's a bit of the article:

They're installing cameras to catch extortion attempts, publicizing that people can pay tickets with credit cards and transferring corrupt cops. They've deployed a squad of female traffic officers to offer courteous help to tourists. They've even declared the stretch of road a "no-ticket" highway.

"I've told my officers it is strictly prohibited to stop vehicles with foreign plates, especially from California," said Victor Manuel Zatarain, Tijuana police chief.

Police say that this time, unlike before, their efforts will make a difference.

Corrupt cops have long slipped around such measures to prey on retired American expatriates, surfers and college kids on weekend getaways. (Italics mine.)
I remember a few brushes with the corrupt police on surf trips south of the border. None of them were pleasant. Now that billions of dollars of development are coming to Baja (including Mr. Trump's empire), government officials see the need to clean things up. Never mind that the corrupt cops are merely getting transfered, probably to poor sections of Baja. It's heartbreaking to see the poverty so close to affluent El Norte. On your next trip down south, remember to support local businesses and trades. Mexico's culture, people, and natural beauty deserve to be celebrated. Hopefully, this new explosion of trade and building will benefit all.

Two notes about road trips: You need the right music and the right vehicle. For music, I suggest getting to know some great new bands. Traveling is best when exploring new territory in sight and sound. Looking for new music? A good blog for new music is Confessions of a Trophy Husband ( It's a funny and wise blog not only about being a parent, but also about finding your way through adulthood. Jack, the blog's author, is always recommending new music (many with free links). One that he suggested is apt for this post: a tune by the Explorer's Club. Visit the blog for a link to a free MP3 of an EC song. (Jack also wrote that he thought I'd like the song. The answer is yes, I very much do.) One other site to check out for free music is my wife's website: She sings and writes in the folk, pop, rock, jazz and country traditions. Her specialty is also early American folk songs. I also recommend the band Minus the Bear. Great lyrics, great guitar, great band name. Finally, about the right vehicle, I suggest two sources for direction. The first is Patrick Sauer's blog, where he very often reviews new vehicles. He's a brilliant wit, and I highly recommend reading his writing and taking his suggestions for your next vehicle. If you need to rent a mode of transport for your California voyage, there is only one vehicle to choose: the VW van. Rent one at Vintage Surfari Wagons, and good luck finding an empty wave and parking spot.

Speaking of surf trips, now is the time to grab your board, head out to the Pacific, get in the lineup for a good wave, and get an epic ride. Below are three YouTube videos for inspiration.

Adios for now,
The Bear


Anna Vodicka said...

Minus the Bear...a big Seattle hit! They also have semi-regular gigs at one of our favorite dive bars in Moscow. Next time you guys are in town...

K. M. Johnson said...

Thanks for the kind words, Anonymous!

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Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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