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Cosmic Banditos by Allan Weisbecker
On a recent road trip across the Western US, I went down a little bit of a bandito wormhole on audiobook. There was something fitting about these tales of adventure and life on the edge as I watched the white lines blur into the distance, vultures pecking on roadkill, mountains turning into dessert turning into the concrete madness of Southern California.
Unlike his other book, The Search for Captain Zero, Cosmic Banditos isn’t a surf book, but the surf theme is what brought me to Weisbecker’s writing in the first place. This blog is what brought me to explore and revisit his other writing on this particular trip.
I was on the search for waves, after having been mountain-bound for the better part of the last year. Late July can be hit or miss for SoCal, but it looked like I was in luck with a consistent 3-5 foot swell expected for the time I was there.
But first I had to get there, and that was where Cosmic Banditos came in.
The drive from Boulder to my target destination, Seal Beach, is about 16 hours of easy highway in theory. You head West on I-70, pass through mountains and canyons before heading across the vast deserts of Utah. Moab can be a good place to stop if you have the time.
On the other side of the desert, you head South on I-15 through Utah, Arizona (for a minute), and Nevada. Las Vegas passes on your left and the traffic picks up as you enter the Vegas-Los Angeles run.
Time this part wrong and you’ll be crawling through the Inland Empire for hours.
Of course, in theory, major interstate highways are open and not threatened by flash floods and mudslides due to raging wildfires the year before.
I had a few extra hours on this trip, and while the rest of my crew settled into their headphones or dozed off, I blurred into the wasteland well suited for Weisbecker’s bandito adventures.
Wild sagebrush and desert scrub blazed past as I sped along – one eye out for cops and one ear on the humming straps that held the two surfboards to the roof.
The problem with writing about a book that you listened to while driving is that you have no notes, no quotes, no bookmarks, no hardcopy, no reference. It is like it didn’t happen. Therefore, writing about it will be a cosmic memory dive which after many hours on the road may not be great.
Was that alien truck stop in the book or just that gas station full of gas fume inhaling zombies in Utah? Huh.
To be honest, when I downloaded Cosmic Banditos I thought it was going to be another surf tale. It isn’t. But I was soon gripped by Weisbecker’s trademark Hunter Thompsonesque exploits and stories that blur fiction and his swashbuckling reality.
The injection of a lesson in physics was an unexpected curveball, but I hung in there, intertwining his bandito logic with the world spinning past at 85 miles an hour.
Despite the lack of surfing (again, my bad) the setting starting off on a pirated ship in Panama instantly hooked me. The rest of the misadventures all over Central and South America before smuggling themselves over the border to the US touched on surf adventure locals without bothering with descriptions of the waves.
As I’ve mentioned before, to me, a great surf trip book isn’t actually about surfing. I read about surfing when I’m not surfing. A great surf trip book might be about the ocean (fisherman, sailing, that sort of thing), about the destination (a dive into culture) or like this, something that makes your own exploits seem tame and opens the door to misbehaving just that bit wider.
The bandito loyalty made me nostalgic for past adventures with my crew across Latin America and of solo adventures that ended up entangled with all sorts of characters. On this particular road trip, I was fairly confident that nothing would get too out of the ordinary. But you never know when you’ll have to call in the reinforcements.
Is this a book review or just a story about me listening to a book? Sorry. That’s how it goes sometimes.
This website is more about recommendations than reviews. I put books on here that I think people drawn to this type of content will like. And this is a recommendation.
Keep Up With Allan Weisbecker
Somewhere along the way, Weisbecker headed back to the United States and has been blogging about his wanderings. You can keep up with the Cosmic Bandito himself here.
Related Travel Book Articles, Recommendations, and Favorites
Travel Book Reviews and Recommendations – Whether it is a new travel book, a classic, or anything in between, here are some of our favorite books to inspire you in between trips or accompany you on your journey.
Great Surfing Books – As you can see on this website, we have a bit of a surfing problem. Surfing isn’t the only reason we travel, but it wouldn’t be a lie to say the next surf trip generally dominates our thoughts. Our list of great surfing books highlights some of our favorite books on the sport, lifestyle, and journey of surfers.
Great Surf Trip Books – While we have a separate list of great surfing books (books actually about surfing), I’ve found that when I’m actually on a surf trip I gravitate towards other things. Whether it is something cultural on the place I am visiting or some sort of epic ocean adventure, here are some great books to accompany you on your surf trip.
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