The Trip 2013 – LA to Mazatlan

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – LA to Mazatlan. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

Its been a while since my last post, the past three weeks spent travelling across Mexico have been an intense non-stop tour of northern and western Mexico. The small amount of downtime we have been afforded has usually been spent catching up on much needed sleep.

That being said its been incredible so far, heres the highlights.

The trip kicked off from the Hacienda hotel in LA on the 26th of May.

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There I met the people I would be spending the next 32 days with. Kelsie, Colette, Madeline, Rosie, Jac, Ralph and one incredible shock, Dan Blackhurst.

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Incredibly I had met Dan about 10 years ago on a holiday in Lanzarote, he is a friend of a friend and I had no idea he was going to be joining us on the trip, its a small world.

It was a short drive from LA down to San Diego, then a hop across the border at Tijuana and we were in Mexico!

Our first night was in a town an hour or two south of Tijuana called Ensenada. There I spotted something Karl Pilkonton was searching high and low for:

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That first night we revealed some tension by going for a nice meal, sharing a beer or two and watching the Mexicans celebrate Mexico City América’s victory in the Mexican football cup.

The next day was spent in a town called Guerro Negro, south of Ensanada. There some of us took a trip out to a salt farm in the desert. This place was pretty other-worldly:

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I had a ball:

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Next up was a small town built round an Oasis called San Ignacio. We took a little trip out to see the oasis. The water was really warm and crstal clear.

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A little around the corner was a small rock that you could only access by a rickety ladder.

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There was no way that ladder was going to support us using it to get back, so there was only one thing for it..

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That afternoon was spent in the hotel pool, splashing about enjoying the sun. Kelsie, had an underwater camera which we had a play with.

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Had a great time that avo doing what I do best

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Next up was a town calld Loretto next to the ocean, this place was really cool. Not literally as the temperature was into the 40’s luckally there was plenty of shade.

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In Loretto a few of us took a boat out to a nearby island and nature reserve. We weren’t expecting much, perhaps some fish, the odd turtle. To our great surprise we stumbled upon a massive pod of dolphins:

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We drove up and down and the dolphins chased us, darting in and out, over and under the boat, I have never seen anything like it before:

After a little while I dived in with flippers and tried to chase them down with the underwater camera but they were too fast for me and I couldn’t get any good photos. Still, at times they were very close to me it was incredible.

After that we hopped back in the boat and headed round the coast where we came upon a group of noisy sea lions:

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I was really nervous about getting in the water with these things as they were noisy and smelly and looked a lot more aggressive than the dolphins. The boat captain assured me however that they were safe to swim with so I jumped in.

About 30 seconds after getting in I went under water and came up and this big bugger had disappeared:

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I couldnt see him anywhere, everyone the boat was pointing behind me so I turned around the next thing I know Rosie sneaks up behind me and grabs my leg scaring the crap out of me.

I spent the next 20 minutes or so chasing after the sea lions trying to get a good photo, they were all around me but the water was kind of cloudy and they were fast making a picture difficult:

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I eventually gave up when one of the ones I was chasing let go of his bowels directly in front of me, from then on I decided to take some pictures of more continent sea creatures:

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On the way back the captain let Rosie drive the boat:

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All was going well until..

Still I had a cracking time that day

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That evening was spend drinking beer and enjoying the gorgeous sunset:

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A few days later we found ourselves taking a ferry across from the Baja to mainland Mexico. Before hopping on the ferry however we spotted a big group of manta rays playing and jumping out of the water:

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Apparently they do this to clean gunk off themselfs (technical term).

The overnight ferry across was fairly uneventful and boring, there wasn’t much to do other than drink beer and take pictures. Here’s one of the highlights:

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When we finally arrived in Mazatlan we collectively exhaled as this was a place to chill:

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During the day we took a boat then a Mexican taxi to the restaurant / beach:

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The water here was super warm. We were meant to go surfing but apparently in the usual surf spot the chances of jellyfish was too high. Instead we all jumped in the water and hired bodyboards and rode some of the surf on our bellys instead:

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A coupple of the group hired horses and galloped up and down the beach:

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That evening we hopped in another Mexican taxi, picked up some beers and cruised around the town:

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We stopped up on one of the highest hills surrounding Mazatlan for a quick Pacifico promotional photoshoot:

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We polished off an incredible day by eating and drinking in the best restaurant of the trip so far.

Suzanne our trek leader (the one singing in the above video) got talking to man who turned out to be the ex mayor of the city.

I cant believe all that is less than 10 days of travelling, so much stuff crammed into such a short amount of time, I cant wait to see what the next 10 days brings!

The Trip 2013 – North Carolina

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – North Carolina. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

After leaving Chicago behind I was desperately in need of some time to R&R before the Central American leg of my trip began, fortunately I was heading to North Carolina where I would be getting just that.

I arrived into Charlotte early afternoon on the 18th of May, due to the flight being domestic I wasnt hassled at immigration for the first time. David Wilson brother of Martin (my travelling buddy and old friend whom I stayed with in DC) met me at the airport and we headed back to his place. Lindsay his wife was up in the mountains filming so we went out and grabbed a bite to eat and sampled some of the local beers.

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I was totally shattered so I went to bed early that night and awoke late the following morning. We had organised to go to Carrowinds, a theme park about 20 minutes away from his home in Charlotte.

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We picked a great day to go as the weather wasnt great but that meant that there were far fewer people there and we were able to go on the rides several times in a row often without queueing.

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One of the best rides was a giant swing that simulated free-fall / hang gliding. You have to wear special harnesses and are winched up to the top of a huge tower. After the count of 3.. 2… 1… you pull the rip cord and fall.

I had a great time. We had a go at some of the game stalls during the down time (thunder shuts the rides), David managed to win a basketball and I incredibly managed to remmeber enough of my scool rugby hooker position to throw an american football through a hole and thus win it as a prize.

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All in all a great day

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The following day we woke early, I had a 4 hour train journey to catch to Wilson North Carolina where Lorna (mother of Martin and David) was picking me up and taking me to Greenville, about an hour away from Wilson.

Lorna and Colin live in a beautiful house in Greenville.

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I had a great time there catching up on some much needed sleep and recharging my batteries. Peter (the youngest son of Lorna and Colin) drove all the way down from his home in the mountains (5 hours away) to come visit me. It was really cool to hang out with him again.

We all went out to get some traditional North Carolina bbq one lunch time. Pulled pork and sweet coldslaw with cornbread. I enjoyed the pork and the coldslaw though the bread was a little tough.

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Their house had a swimming pool out the back which they very kindly opened early so I could work off some of the callories I had accrewed over the past coupple of weeks of (a little too) tastey American food and beer.

They also still have their elderly gent of a cat Ashley which I remember from the last time I visited 13 years ago.

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After just a few days in Greenville I was off again, taking the train in the rain back to Charlotte.

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The next day was spent with Lindsay (David’s wife) wile David was at work. We decided to head down to the centre of Charlotte where hill billies were gathering for the NASCAR themed Speed Street.

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There was some interesting tens there where we managed to blag a load of free stuff. There was even a Tony the tiger where I managed to get a GRRRREAT thigh rub.

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I even tried funnel cake for the first time which tasted like donut but nicer.

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Unfortunately that was my last day in North Carolina, my flight the next day was taking me to LA where the Central American leg of my journey would be beginning.

I had a great time in NC and it was exactly what I needed, massive thanks to David, Lindsay, Lorna, Colin and Peter for letting me stay and showing me some of the awesome North Carolina.

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The Trip 2013 – Chicago

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Chicago. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

May the 15th just 8 days after I had started I took a flight from Toronto to Chicago. I was flying into the windy city to see the sights and meet my good uni mate Mark. Mark was due to arrive the following day with a few other friends of his from back in England they were all over here visiting their friend Damien.

I arrived late afternoon and made my way to the hostel I was staying at downtown. This place was quite a change from the hostel in Toronto, it was HUGE. 6 floors of dorms with each dorm being about twice the size of the ones in Toronto. Apparently it is one of the biggest hostels in the world. It felt more like a hotel than a hotel.

That first night I headed north to meet Damien for the first time. We hung out is his local, drinking local beers and Jager (ughh). We went for some food around the corner and I managed to sample Chicago style pizza, which is odd with the tomato and cheese positioning reversed so the cheese is on the bottom with tomato on top. It tasted great still.

The following day I spent downtown doing some touristy things. I visited the flagship McDonalds:

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I spent some time down by the waterfront updating my diary.

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I saw some wierd mushroom buildings.

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The city was really beautiful, helped by the fact that there was tons of bushes in bloom:

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That evening I met up with Mark and the lads and we went out for drinks downtown. I met some more of Damien’s friends including a girl named Angee who is Venezuelan and informed me that if I go to Venezuela I am totally going to get mugged / raped, oh joy.

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We went to some really cool bars. One called the Rooftop in the Wit had a violinist who riffed along to the house music that the DJ was spinning out, I was in heaven.

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Needless to say that was a tough night for the lads with jetag.

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The following day we went to watch the Cubs loose to the Mets

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It was fun tho I think I prefer ice hockey over baseball, far more action in hockey. It doesnt help that the wind was really cold making where we were sat in the shade even colder.

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Still, the beer and nachos helped. Mark and Damien even went for the $18 helmet of them.. mental

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After the game we headed across the road to Sluggers, which is a bar with batting nets.

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That was really good fun, I have always enjoyed getting involved with sports more than watching them. The fastball nets however were really tough. The ball comes at you at about 60mph which is fairly slow compared to the real pitchers, but unlike the real thing you have no clue when the ball is about to leave the machine. Also unlike the real thing your belly is full of beer, making things trickier :P

The rest of the evening was spent getting messy. At one point we spotted a group of people who were taking their parrot for a walk. I dont think I have ever seen more emotional in an animal than this bird. Just by looking at its eyes you could tell what it was thinking, it was really fascinating.

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A fitting end to to a great stay in the windy city. I rose early the next day to catch a flight to my next destination; North Carolina!