Thursday, September 19, 2013


Eugene, OR
(music) “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…” was playing from the Ford dealership loudspeaker as I walked across their expansive blacktop towards the service department and my truck. I laughed out loud. The morning had started with a visit from AAA to jump-start the battery and tell me that the alternator was shot and that I should get straight to a service station before my battery charge ran out. They wouldn’t tow my truck with kayaks on top.

I left the truck idling on a slight slope when I returned the Motel 6 key and returned to see fluid pouring out of the back end. Gasoline. I raced through early morning Eugene traffic to the Ford dealership watching the battery charge level wane and the gas gauge drop as I left a trail of damp highway in my wake.

It turns out the battery and the alternator were both worthy of replacement, and somebody had cut the filling hose to my gas tank in an attempt to siphon fuel during the night. The fuel hose cost over $300 and needed to be overnighted from Sacramento, another $50, and another night in Eugene. Total repair bill over $1000.

Recalculating. (in the longsuffering tone of the GPS navigator). It wouldn’t be a trip to Baja without some adventure. Breathe. Forgive.

I need forced stops like this to reconnect with the human side. To pause and breathe. Just be. There is no reason to hurry through to the other side of the moment; there is just more waiting over there. Life seems to make these stops happen when I don’t. They’re generally less expensive when I do it willingly, though. Someday I’ll learn!

It could be worse. I was near enough to a shop to drive myself there with the bad alternator, and didn’t have to leave 4 kayaks beside the road, or more likely stay with 4 kayaks while I watched my truck get hauled off.

Could be better. If I’d have driven further last night maybe nobody would have tried to siphon gas and cut the hose.

Could be worse. Nothing was stolen from the overloaded back of my truck, or from the roof. All that makes $350 look like pocket change.

Could be worse. At least I have money in the account to cover the Ford bill. Unsure about covering the $3,500 importation bill, the $900 in kayak parts waiting in San Diego, and the approximately $1000 in fuel, food and hotels between here and Loreto. But 2 more people are signing up for the Loreto to La Paz trip. Funds seem to trickle in just when needed! Sometimes I stress out a lot about money, but today I’ve decided not to.

I go for a walk to Delta Ponds where a nature trail winds through a park.

Yes, it could be much worse. The late morning sun feels good. Ground I’m sitting on is soft and dry. I sink through the levels of relaxation, breathing slows. Mind wanders, free from its short tether of focus. Sounds float down from the forest and from a distant construction project. Sunlight filters through the canopy. Ducks clear wakes through the lily pads.

A week before leaving home, I had another cancer scare. After a few follow-up tests, the docs decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go on, and that I should return in 6 months for more testing. I will. Meanwhile, with that clearance, I (over)loaded the truck, and headed south, taking it as a reminder to live well and be thankful.

I have this breath that I am breathing right now. It is a gift. As a bonus, I should still be able to get to the border in time to import the kayaks and get to Loreto before running my first course.