Wheels were rolling

Perspectives by Justin Craigen
Photography By Gary Parker & Justin Craigen


Gaz, Teash and I had been talking about skipping down south since last year. They were living in Nelson, BC enjoying the winter dumps of the white stuff. I was in Vancouver dangling from a rope twelve hours a night with a crew of climbers and gypsies who had been contracted to take care of some construction on a local bridge. Catching each other when we could on Skype we would riddle off ideas of our next mission. At that point I think we were talking about converting an old bus to veggie oil and rolling that hunk as far south as we could get it. We wanted to live in that thing, work in that thing and surf from that thing. When the rain and heavy snow started puking on us lowly rope workers all night, my thoughts would drift to that imaginary bus, warm and seaside.

After three months of seeing the sun through slivers in my blinds I was given the notice that our contract had ended. By that point I couldn’t wait for a bus. I booked a plane ticket to Puerto Escondido and straight to the beach for some much needed surf and sun. Gaz and Teash met me down there and we rented a little house where we slammed Coronas, made ceviche and enjoyed those lovely south swells coming through. Our vision of the bus was still strong. We would sit around and flick out ideas of how we could make it happen. We all had to get back up to Canada eventually, and the plan was to work a little more then take the bus back down through Mex and beyond. Gaz ended up going south to Peru to work with WAVES, Teash went back up to el Norte lands of Canada to work. I hung around Mexico for a little longer. I picked up a Bonzer, a motorcycle and made a little nest close to the beautiful madness that is Zicatela.

After nearly breaking my back, falling in love, falling hard out of love and getting the best barrels and beat downs of my life, my run had come to an end. I had wounds on my body that were keeping me out of the water and wounds on my heart that were stealing my sanity. My cash was running a bit low and my occasion ciggy habit went full on. I figured it was a good time to cut out, regroup and head back north. I sold my motorcycle, left my board with a buddy and made my way back home.

Somewhere along the lines the bus turned into Motorcycles. I think we all were getting a sense of how a monstrous bus running on veggie oil might provide more learning experiences that we wanted, especially through the Baja. Don’t get me wrong; we were all ready to take on a wrench and some hardships, that comes with the territory. But we started to think more about getting off road and a bus was going to limit that. We started to think about exposing ourselves a little more. When I’m riding a bike my head is in the same space as when I surf. I’m all there baby. I feel alive when I rip through that air with nothing but thin layers of material between disaster, bliss and me. We started to see our trip going down more on motorcycles with boards strapped to the side, then a big bus. But it wasn’t all that tangible yet.

Then the hell man Matty showed up at my door in August. I was living in North Vancouver again, still trying to come down from Zicatela. He had Alaska on his face in the form of a beard, proof of his more than mammoth mission. He was on a journey to ride a motorcycle from Alaska to Patagonia with only what he could pack on the bike and a sidecar. He was a friend of Gaz and Teash’s that I had heard lots of, but never met. Matty crashed at my place for a few days and we talked about Mexico and the Baja quite a bit. I think he saw the twinkle in my eye, because a couple days after he hit the road to continue his mission, there was an invite on the good ol’ Facebook machine to a group called “Burning Down Baja.”

Matty must have stoked the flames in Gaz and Teash as well when he went to meet up with them on the Oregon coast. Then another Aussie the crew was tight with back home named Greggy signed up. Within a couple of weeks the mission seemed like more of a dream coming to fruition then one that stays in the pipe. I think Gaz messaged me something like, “Bikes, boards, stars and waves. Baja… let’s do it!” When it comes to surf journeys, I usually don’t have to think too much about saying yes, especially when a crew as all time as these cats were forming. I booked in to get my motorcycle licence. The wheels were rolling.

Stay tuned for more stories leading up to the journey…