Arrival at the Pacific Ocean

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I stood at the edge of the continent and took in my first views of the Pacific Ocean. The desert abuts the sea at Paracas National Reserve with dramatic cliffs, sea life, and powerful winds. I felt a true sense of accomplishment.

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There have been a small handful of cycling days on this trip that I would consider easy, or comfortable. I can remember about two off the top of my head. Reaching Paracas was not one of those two days. The prevailing winds are from the north to north west along the coast and as I approached the shoreline the famous Paracas winds were directly onshore and in my face.

It was fitting. I was completely alone, walking the bike, with my head down, and going over a hill. When I reached the top I struggled to keep the bike standing in the wind before getting frustrated and dropping it on the ground. To the end I would have to work for every inch across South America. I took a second to breath and walked to the edge of the water. The first thing I thought: about time.

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Where are you ocean... here I come!

The ride out from the PanAm Sur ended up being 20 miles one way and took me about three hours with the headwind. This was my longest stray from my route but was well worth the effort. The scenery is starkly beautiful and the sense of place was unmistakable. I had miles of coastline to myself for the night to fully appreciate how long the ride has been. I still had a couple hundred miles more to Lima but I had made it to the ocean.

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I spent the afternoon wandering further away from the access road looking for a nice campsite. I also took the opportunity to pose on an assortment of cliff tops and various spits of land.

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The salty smell of ocean air reminded me of home.

I had been fighting a fever and the runs all day (I am guessing my gut is housing a wonderful myriad of parasites at this point) and was eager to get settled before sunset. I found a shallow cave on a cliff over the ocean where I could hear the waves breaking, and after dark, sea lions barking. I set the tent up close by in the soft dusty ground.

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After dark I was outside the tent messing with my panniers I had placed in front of the carved out rock when I heard a scuff noise in the distance. I pointed my headlamp and 50 meters off I saw a moving figure. There shouldn´t be anything out here. I´m not alone.

I kept the beam fixed on the figure and jogged towards it to make sure I never lost sight. As I got close I realized it was a lone man with a large bag. He had a baseball cap down and kept his eyes shielded from my light. I think we both scared one another. I didn´t consider I came out of nowhere, rushed him, and blinded him with my light. He kept asking, “Who are you? Who are you?”

His name was Gabriel and he was from the nearby town of Pisco. He fished off the cliffs at night and hitched a ride back every night around 9pm with some other fisherman. I told him I was just camping for down below and had ridden my bike out here. I think we both were relieved we weren´t about to murder the other.

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Paracas is home to the Hubolt Penguin, the Inca Tern, flamingos, Andean Condors, marine cats (never heard of these), pelicans, turkey buzzards, and the Black Ostrich. This time I only saw condors, pelicans, terns, and some other bird life. There are also these crabs that are about the size of a mans hand and can climb quickly up sheer rock. They were very interesting to watch scatter around out of the water.

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I fired up the SAT phone and shared my location with my parents and girlfriend.

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Yes Mom, I had something to eat for dinner tonight.

From Paracas I had under 200 miles to Lima along a stretch of the PanAm I had driven before. I knew I was in for heavy truck traffic, headwinds, more fevers, and less than rewarding scenery. However, for this night I was satisfied.

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"TASTE IT!!!!!!!!!!!"

13 Responses to “Arrival at the Pacific Ocean”
  1. Awesome photos, Doug. Particularly this last one. After reading through all of your journeys, I can imagine your excitement and pride when you reached the coast.

    by Levi Novey
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  2. You deserve a day, a place all to yourself (save the fisherman) for all you have been through. Atta boy. Glad to see you are still rockin’ the new sweater like it’s goin outa style. Peace out bro.

    by ESmith
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  3. oh man…… so amazing!

    by sara
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  4. Awesome dude! Congrats on reaching the water! I’m very proud of ya. Now, if only I could figure out how you took that last picture!

    by Yost
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  5. I feel like I have just completed the trip with you, Doug.

    Man, I’m tired.

    Kudos!

    by Josh L
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  6. Congrats Dougie! Truly an amazing feat. Can’t wait to see you. I have a feeling some of us are going to to through some withdrawals of checking your site for new posts. Safe travels home.

    by Erek
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  7. Congratulations, what a journey! Soak up those last couple days and revel in it for a bit. You would not believe how many youtube videos you’ll have catch up on when you get back.

    by Aaron
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  8. Doug, you are truly amazing! Thank you for letting me tag along! God bless you and keep you safe as you journey home!

    by Rita Yost
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  9. Way to go Doug! This is an amazing accomplishment. Can you keep updating the site even when you get back?

    by Adam
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  10. Amazing scenary (you’ll have to tell us how you set up the last one, unless Gabriel took it for you!) and solitude on the shore.

    With using headlamps, Burners call them *hippie mace* for pretty much the same effect that you had on Gabriel when you were it on your forehead, so you can always wear it around your neck so as to not blind people you are talking with.

    by Ken
    on 07. Dec, 2009

  11. Fantastic Doug!! What an accomplishment! Erek got it right when he surmised that some of us will be going through withdrawals from this site. Each night we’ve said, “we’ve gotta check the Gunz.”
    For our sake (and Adam’s), will you please keep updating the site even when you get back?

    by Kathy and Eddie
    on 08. Dec, 2009

  12. WOW Doug…truly amazing journey…love the visuals..congratulations!!!

    by joni
    on 11. Dec, 2009

  13. of course like your website but you have to test the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I’ll certainly come again again.

    by botte ugg et pluie
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