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House and Church near Hermosillo

House and Church near HermosilloView All Sizes

Classic Mexico somewhere in the desert of Sonora

Classic MexicoView All Sizes

Heavily Decorated Desert Cemetery

Desert CemeteryView All Sizes

Mexican Kids on the Beach in Santa Cruz

Mexican Kids on the Beach in Santa CruzView All Sizes

The town square, or Zocalo, of Sayulita

Zocalo de SayulitaView All Sizes

Mariachi Band Escorts Summer to the Church

Summer’s Mariachi Band EscortView All Sizes

A rare family photo during the wedding in Sayulita.

Rare Family PhotoView All Sizes

My dad, sister, Alyssa and Grandma Pat driving to the wedding ceremony.

Dad and Family Driving in the Wedding ProcessionView All Sizes

My Dad and Sister Robin at the Wedding Reception

My Dad and Sister RobinView All Sizes

My dad and sister eating oysters in Santa Cruz

My dad and sister eating oysters in Santa CruzView All Sizes

JOURNAL : November 20, 2009

Driving from Portland to Sayulita

Mexico

Series Driving from Portland to Sayulita
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This is my last drive down to Mexico, but certainly not my last visit.

Over the years my family has traveled through Mexico numerous times. From Tijuana to Tapachula by foot, train, motorcycle, van, plane or sailboat we've covered just about every major city and town in search of adventure, portable goods and good times. At various times we've all lived down in Mexico seeking cultural enrichment or a change of pace. Each day the land reveals its treasures and composes its citizens with generous affection. Many of my fondest memories are of growing up in Mexico or in the midst of a crazy scheme to smuggle something back to the states.

The Carretera in Sonora

The Carretera in SonoraView All Sizes

The Last Drive

This time I vowed I would never drive down to Mexico again. From now on I fly. For one thing the roads seem to be populated with many more topes — speed bumps — than I ever remember. Imagine speeding through a seemingly endless desert only to suddenly hit 20 or 30 hard speed bumps in a row. And not nice smooth bumps but sharp, abrupt jolts like hitting a curb where unimaginable and irreparable damage is done to the vehicle. The other bummer was the expensive tolls. Granted, the roads have dramatically improved, but it cost us several hundred dollars in tolls to make the round trip. Why were we driving down in the first place?

One of the things I love about Mexico are the open-air mercados and tiendas that spill fresh vegetables and tree-ripened fruit onto the street and emanate delicious smells for passers-by.

Mini Super, Sayulita

Summer's Wedding

My sister's wedding was a rare opportunity for the family to congregate in one place. It was also nice to visit Sayulita again — the previous occasion being the birth of my nephew Nainoa in October of 2005.

A Traditional Mexican Wedding Ceremony

The Wedding CeremonyView All Sizes

In the weeks before the wedding my dad and younger sister were in Mokuleia on Oahu while I was up near Portland about to head down to Los Angeles for the winter. We discovered that flying down to Puerto Vallarta would be very costly, so the three of us decided to bundle in my conversion van for the trip and share expenses. The other advantage to driving down would be the opportunity to check out places there and back, like our briefs stops into Santa Cruz and El Golfo.

How Many Miles??

Beyond the 1000-mile leg from Portland to L.A. the drive to Sayulita is over 1500 miles each way. That month over 4000 miles were added to my odometer.

Streets of Sayulita, Avenida Revolucion and Hotel Villa Amor

The Streets of SayulitaView All Sizes

At Long Last

So, after countless speed bumps, endless driving and expensive tolls, we arrive in Sayulita for the wedding.

Summer had reserved a three-story vacation rental next to her house for the family. We relaxed or ambled around town or cruised down to Puerto Vallarta about 45 minutes south. Wedding day we all packed into the small Catholic church near the zocalo. Serenaded through the streets by a Mariachi band, the bride joined the groom at the church. For the ceremony the priest read a few solemn lines and the Mariachi band kicked in with a boisterous tune, alternating for most of an hour. The church disgorged us into the plaza for photo ops. The red Porsche my dad had commandeered was replaced by a Honda quad we raced through the jungle to an extravagant wedding reception just around the point at a secluded beach.

Farms and Jungle on the coast of Nayarit

The Lush Coast of NayaritView All Sizes

The Return Trip

Rather than take the carretera through Tepic as we had done various times before we opted to follow the coast and bypass that city and the elevation climb. This gave us a chance to cruise through coastal communities more leisurely, and discover more of Mexico's treasures.

For me this meant timeless vistas of rural life in northern Mexico, like the strange but touching scene of a heavily decorated cemetery surrounded by miles of empty desert land, or the ramshackle homestead with an immaculate miniature church in the yard.

For my dad this meant oysters in Santa Cruz.

The Patio of my Sister’s Casa in Sayulita

My Sister’s Casa in SayulitaView All Sizes

The palapa of the vacation rental we stayed at in Sayulita.

Vacation Rental in SayulitaView All Sizes

An exhibit containing many anemones in the sand.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Dexter Dam, built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Dexter Dam

Jiuzhaigou Valley Primeval Forest_Old Tree Sign

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Mulholland and Seminole Hot Springs

Mulholland Highway

Yangshuo Park

Yangshuo Park

Monongahela Forest, Stuart Recreation Park, Shavers Fork River, Elkins, West Virginia

The Shavers Fork River

Pavilion on Fragrant Lotus Pool (fang lian chi) in front of the entrance to Reed Flute Cave

Lake Pavilion

The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Acropolis of Athens

Aqueduct and River-Driven Pump Station Yulong River

Yulong River

Random Adventures!

The Tower of London in Perspective, London, UK

Tower of London

Coffeepot Rock, Sedona

Coffeepot Rock

Mendenhall Glacier with the town in the foreground.

Mendenhall Glacier

Bumblebee nestled in with purple crinum lily bulbs

Bumblebee on Lily Bulb

Steel Bridge, used from 1901 until 1969. The tallest cantilever bridge at the time.

White Pass & Yukon Route

Father and Son on the Yulong River

Yulong River

African Tulip Tree and Monstera Deliciosa

African Tulip Tree

Looking South over Mt. Ka’ala

Waianae Side

The town of Huanglong, about an hour north of Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Huanglong

Another group of fishermen and their dogs.

Kenai River Fishing

Our Group of Bicyclists at White Pass Summit

Klondike Highway