adventures (125)

Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

The name? In 1950, Ralph Edwards, the MC of the popular radio quiz show, announced that he would broadcast the 10th anniversary show from any town that changed its name to youknowwhat, and so Hot Springs, NM became T or C (as locals call it).

A vein of hot water flows under the town, and there are a bunch of spas. I arrived after dark and drove around sussing out the choices. I liked the looks of La Paloma. They had one room left. Bingo! $80 for rustic room and 24‑hour access to about a dozen different soaking rooms, ranging from 103 to 110 degrees.

After soaking a few times, I wandered out into the town and it turned out to be full moon, total eclipse night. Will my luck never cease?

I got a beer and sat on a bench on the deserted main street in the 28-degree night (in 2 down jackets, gloves, wool hat, scarf), and watched the moon slowly become smoky looking, then disappear. Went back to the spa and hung out with other guests around a courtyard fire.

Jumped in the springs again, and then again at 6:30 the next morning.

In store window (they’re about 8″ high.)


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Rain in San Francisco, Mellowness in Albuquerque

I took off from San Francisco on a rainy Sunday morning. As soon as I got off the plane in Albuquerque, things felt different. Relaxed. Mellow. Palpable low stress level.

Picked up rental car, punched in address for Canteen Brewhouse, where I had scoped out beforehand there was a local bluegrass band playing at 4PM. Garmin magically delivered me to the pub. Good vibes. Community tables. Got dark porter, alc. content 10%, aged in whisky barrels, had best bratwurst I’ve ever had, homemade mustard, cole slaw, black bean chile, guy next to me at bar was carpenter; we had things in common. Perfect.

The band, Squash Blossom Boys, was good. Occasional 3-part harmony. There’s just something about a local band, a local crowd, relaxed atmosphere…

I took off heading south for Truth or Consequences, a town of hot springs I’d read about, at dusk. Cue Willie: “On the road again…”

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Lost in the Woods (Again)

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. OK, so nobody else has to say it.

I took off on my bike yesterday around three in the afternoon on a dark day with a storm hovering, for a mushroom hunt in the woods. About 3 miles from home, there’s a dark, deep section of conifer trees with paths going in all directions, sort of like tunnels. I, er, forgot to bring my phone or a compass (or a light or my lightweight machete). (The phone would’ve given me a compass, a light, and intermittent cell phone range.)

I parked my bike under a tree and started searching. I kept going, ever deeper, twisting and turning in different directions.  No mushrooms at all. I felt like I had a pretty good sense of direction, and could make my way back to the bike and my point of entry. Wrong! I got lost and pretty soon was following deer trails going in all directions. Mostly poison oak. I was getting scratched, tore a couple of holes in my sweatpants, ripped a hole in my down vest. and kept hitting dead ends on the trails. It was starting to get dark and I figured my only way out was to get to the cliffs above the beach.

Which I finally did, but the cliffs were too steep. I kept heading south, trotting from one Pampas grass clump to the next (they hold the soil). I finally got to a spot where I figured I might be able to get down to the beach and started sliding down the (loose) decomposed granite on my butt, trying to go at angles to reduce the steepness. Shit! The danger would be going head over heels down to the beach. Praise be to the Lords of Karma, who have been like benevolent aunts and uncles consistently bailing me out of dumbass predicaments all my life. I jumped out onto the sand. It was now dark.

Luckily the tide was low, and I know every twist and turn in the beach and made my way about 1½ miles and then up to the bluff. There was no moon but the storm held off and the glow from San Francisco across the ridge gave me barely enough light to bushwhack through the brush and finally get to the road. I walked a couple of more miles to get home, where thankfully there were no recriminations and a hot bath and a baked potato and 12 hours sleep and a big breakfast this morning and life is indeed rich.

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Higginbotham Twins Start Paddle Journey

Ryan and Casey Higginbotham, lifeguards from Pismo Beach, California, have just set out on an 1100 mile paddleboard trip from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. A year ago, they paddled 2,200 miles, from Alaska to Tijuana — 7 months on the water. They are now continuing their southward voyage. After reaching Cabo, they’ll rest, then paddle across the Sea of Cortez, heading for South America. Total badasses!

They visited us here a few months ago and went through my library of Baja books. I have a detailed out-of-print Baja atlas, which they copied and are using for navigation.

You can follow them at:

Here’s a recent posting:

We failed to do a little research and showed up at Border Field State Park to a locked gate. After walking everything out Casey got cleaned up on the first surf entry. The biggest challenge is adjusting to all the weight on the boards again. We each rolled atleast a dozen times. At the end of the day it really didn’t matter. We made it to Rosarito and it feels good to be back on the water. The body is going to take some time to adjust to this on the daily. It’s a 19 miler to La Fonda tomorrow and we’re stoked to see what day 2 has in store, nothing bad has happened yet!

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Killer Fishing Boat

Everything about this boat somehow looks right to me. I have a little 12′ Klamath aluminum boat with a 30-year-old 15 HP 2-stroke motor that was just rebuilt. I’m starting to explore Tomales Bay with it. The bay is clean, with white sand beaches on the west side. I’ve figured out how to get clams and mussels, and last week Doug and I put out 3 crab pots. (Rock crabs are legal year-around.)

With a boat like the above, I’d feel more secure about going through waves to get out into the ocean (which is what you have to do for salmon fishing here). But I plan to keep using the smaller boat for a while. Have thought of rigging it up so I could sleep on it at night in the bay. Swimming is great in the bay; water warmer than the ocean. I’m going up there this morning to pull the crab pots, get some clams, and swim.

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Surfers’ Hotel in Costa Rica

These last 4 days, we had a visit from Steve Pezman, the co-creator and recently-retired editor of Surfer’s Journal, and his long-time surfing buddy, photographer Leo Hetzel. Steve interviewed me and Leo shot photos for an article in the magazine. We talked about the old days, among other things, and this was the cover of a scrapbook I made of a surfing trip to Costa Rica in 1990. It shows Kurt Van Dyke on the balcony of his hotel for surfers in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast southeast of Puerto Limón. When he saw me about to take a picture, Kurt said, “Classic, eh?”

(I have a long history with the Van Dyke family. Betty Van Dyke is one of my oldest and very best friends, and I hung out with Peter Van Dyke in the ’50s; Kurt is Betty’s son.)

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