Weekly Lesson from the Road: Language and Communication

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Communication

Early one morning in Playa de Estero I woke up to a loud conversation just outside my window. I couldn’t really tell what was being said at first but it was loud. I was living in an old airstream trailer at the time and had all the windows open. It was August in Baja on the Pacific side and the fishing had been spectacular and the dinners and drinking even better. So it was just way too early to be waking up.

I slowly pulled myself out of bed to see who was making so much noise when I saw and learned something very special. Three old friends were straddling their bicycles out front. They were so intent talking that they didn’t notice me .

It was Vic, Coach, and K-Mart Bob causing the racket. All three men were pushing 90 years old and had been friends for over 60 years. Vic was a tall lanky man who looked  like what I imagined Don Quioxte be like. He was missing an ear from his time in the South Pacific in WWII and he was stone deaf without his hearing aides, which was most of the time as he thought they made him look old. K-mart Bob definitely didn’t have his. I had helped him search his whole trailer the day before. He thought his dog, Misty, had eaten them. K-mart Bob had been a manager of a K-mart in San Diego before retiring in Baja. Coach, had been the women’s swimming coach at Claremont College and before that had played in the 1936 Rose Bowl. He always wore his but they didn’t do much good. Both Coach and K-mart Bob would’ve made a good Sancho Panzas to Vic.

As I leaned out the door and listened, I was mesmerized. All three men were shouting at each other trying to be heard as they gastrulated dramatically. Coach asked K-Mart Bob, “Are you feeling any pain this morning?” K-mart answered, “No! I don’t need a Goddamn Cane! What about you?” Vic interrupted, “I don’t have the flu why is it going around?” They continued in this way for a good 15 minutes, conversing but not actually hearing each other.

When they finally broke up, I stopped K-mart and asked him what they had been talking about. He said that they had had a good visit like they did every morning. For years they had made a point to stop and “catch up.” He paused and said, “You know there’s a lot of flu going around.”

I learned early that morning that communication was not really about language at all.

Weekly Recipe: Halibut on Foil with Butter and Garlic topped with Fresh Parmesan Cheese (Cheese is optional)

Ken with two keeper halibut
Ken with two keeper halibut

Halibut on Foil with Butter and Garlic topped with Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (cheese is optional):

In Baja, besides motorcycling, there is the fishing and believe me it’s world class. Both coasts, the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, offer year round fishing with literally hundreds of different species to catch.

But if you find yourself in the estuaries of the Pacific, get yourself over the shelf of a sloping sandbar in about eleven feet of water, and you can catch halibut almost any time of the year. Some months are better than others but fresh halibut is our favorite. These are California Halibut and keepers for us weigh around 6 pounds but can grow up to 35.

Our dear friends, Tom and Candy Lanza, created this dish years ago. And we stole it without shame! My wife, Tammy, has made this recipe a tradition in our family. You can cook these delicate filets in a pit filled with coals on a lonely beach or in a BBQ on your back patio back in civilization.

Out of all the ways to cook this divine fish, we feel this is the tastiest and the easiest method after a long day out adventuring, especially down in Playa de Estero, where the halibut are plentiful.

Serving size:

 Depending on size of the halibut, 1 to 1 ½ fillets per person. Left overs will not go to waste!

 Ingredients:

A couple of sheets of aluminum foil

Fresh halibut filets (1 ½ per person)

Garlic salt to taste

1 stick of real butter

Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Method:

Filet a fresh Halibut and put on plate

Pat down the Halibut with paper towels, put back in frig or ice chest to keep chilled

Heat up BBQ (charcoal or gas) to piping hot but leave the top open or off (closing the lid will end with poached fish not crispy)

Lay out aluminum foil with the edges turned up to catch and hold the butter (double layer of foil recommended)

Smear a half of a stick of real butter on the foil and be careful not to poke holes in it

Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt on the butter and foil

When the butter is bubbling, lay the filets of halibut on the foil

When the edges of the fillets start to whiten and less pink is visible, gently flip the fillets, smearing more butter on the foil to prevent sticking

(Optional) – Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook until flaky and white, no visible pink in the center… poke with spatula edge, the fillet should bounce back when done

Fresh Halibut
Ready to come off the grill!

When you taste this delicacy you know you are living well and so go forth!

Serve with rice and beans or rice and fresh steamed green beans or just by itself!

Life is very good.

We should’ve Gone to Costa Rica – Lessons from the Road

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Fritz Hoffmeister and two halibut – Playa de Estero, Baja Norte, Mx

About this time every year, I like to retell a story about my best friend, Fritz.

It has been several years ago since he passed. But, like with all those we love who pass, it seems like just yesterday. He left, but not before he taught me one last lesson.

Fritz was a big, larger than life man who lived life to the fullest. I have often said, it is harder to find a good fishing buddy than it is, a good wife. And, Fritz was the best fishing buddy I ever had.

He was a man of many contradictions. He lived modestly, but was a millionaire. He was a tall Viking, but was the softest touch I ever met. He was the most successful contractor in our valley. He was a man’s man, and my friend.

Now, to the story. We were planning a fishing adventure down to Costa Rica. The motos were ready, the packing was done, and the dates were set. It was all we talked about for months. I poured over every route and studied all the possible tide charts and camping areas along the way.

I thought the day we would leave would never come. Finally,  the day of our departure was near. I was so excited that my friends were tired of hearing about our plans.

But a few days before we were actually scheduled to head out, Fritz called me, and said he could not make it. He said that a job had come up that he could not pass up. I was livid and we argued. He said he had doubled his bid but still got the project. He paused and said, “Kenny. We can always go next year.”

I postponed Costa Rica and left on a long moto trip that stretched into months. We didn’t talk much during the time as I was traveling to the white spots on the map where there was no connectivity. I was unplugged. When I finally got back, there were several messages on the phone from Fritz’s daughter that said my friend was ill and I should come right away to see him.

Fritz had contracted cancer. What he had thought was a bad virus before I left had turned out to be lung cancer. Immediately, I went to see him.

He was frail and ill. He was weak and barely had the strength to speak above a whisper. We talked long into the evening. He weakly laughed, as we recalled all the adventures we had been on and all the great times we had had.

I looked around his richly appointed house where we had spent so many evenings planning our adventures and realized all his stuff and money did not really count for much, now. All we were talking about were the good times and adventures we had shared.

As though he had read my mind, he squeezed my hand firmly, eyes welling up, and said, “Kenny, we should have gone to Costa Rica.”

My friend, Fritz, died the next day.

 

 

We Don’t Own Things–Things Own Us! – Weekly Lessons from the Road

Ready to head out for a three month adventure in Baja.
Ready to head out for a three month adventure in Baja.

It is always the same every time I get ready for an adventure. I get so wrapped up in the planning and packing that I’m exhausted by the time I throw my leg over the motorcycle and twist the throttle. And what is craziest about all this is I always pack too much which is half the reason I’m tired in the first place. I realize it is not the effort of packing but how all that stuff weighs on the mind.

I learned from many past adventures, that, except for emergency gear, if you haven’t used it in first three days you don’t need it. So I pack it up and send it home at the first chance I get. This makes for better traveling; as packing and unpacking gear is faster and less cumbersome when setting up and breaking down camp and its just plain easier to find where I stashed something on the motorcycle. Life on the road becomes less cluttered.

So, while it is easier for me now days to get ready for an adventure, I still pack more than I need. And really, I’m down to one pair cargo pants that make into shorts, two pairs of underwear, one Jetbol to cook in–you get the picture.

I have slowly grown into to a minimalist on the road. But what I’m noticing is that this philosophy has carried over into my life off the road. After several months out, I return needing less, and more, importantly, wanting less.

To paraphrase Thoreau, we don’t own things–things own us.

Have any of you found this to be true? Or is it just me?

New book review of The Baja Catch in the Book section

The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira
The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

Visit the book section of this blog. I have a new review of The Baja Catch by Neil Kelly and Gene Kira. Books.

Upcoming Adventure to Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja Norte, Mexico

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The first adventure to Bahia de Los Angeles on this season will be March 21 to the 29 th. We’ll be leaving from Playa de Estero. This will be a trip for both motos and cages (4 wheels). We’ll have a boat down there as well for fishing and freediving. Check the Rides page of this blog for more details. This a great trip for newbies. Leave a comment if you’re intested and we’ll check for from. Nos vemos!

Whale Shark – Bahia de Los Angeles

I’ve been going down the peninsula of Baja for years and have yet to find those heads on sticks. Search as we may, this is all we found last trip.

A whale shark off the beach near our home at Campo Gecko, Bahia de Los angeles.

When you are in the water with them you realize how gentle these 50 foot creatures really are and how ill equipped and ungraceful we humans are in the water.

Here’s a YouTube link to this magic:

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