Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 12 Isla del Carmen "Taiko Cove" to rocky beach south of Nopolo

Day 12 Isla del Carmen "Taiko Cove" to rocky beach south of Nopolo
At dawn we talk for awhile in our bags, comparing our experience to that which might be had by members of one of the guided kayak tours that are camped down the coast from us. I know that I would learn more of the local biology from a local guide, especially with my own questions. But I would give up so much of the independent, elemental sense of discovery of nature and of myself, so under-experienced by our modern culture. AndI have come to value that kind of self-work too much to make it a fair trade.
By the time we have left 'Taiko Cove' (which I dubbed it, based on the regular drum like sound produced by waves striking the curved undercut section of the cliffs), the drums have shifted from the south to the north end of this tiny 40 meter beach. A small pod of dolphins feed in the water before us as we put in, and begin our paddle across to Isla Danzante. Part way across, we here the great Fin breathing again...
Making the two mile crossing, we circle Danzante in a clockwise fashion to the south. The water is very clear as we glide over schools of Sargent Major, Black Tang, King Angel and one Parrot fish. Oyster Catchers, herons, gulls, neons and osprey watch us from the shore. The beaches here are rocky, where on the older Isla, they were made of ground up shell (later, at a dive shop in Loreto, we here that this is the best local area for snorkeling, and that there is indeed a shell sand beach, but at the north end of Danzante, nearest Isla Carmen).
After another respite, we head across the 2 mile stretch over to the mainland coast, heading directly into Puerto Escondido to explore it's deep pocket harbor. Protected by a rounded hill to the south, it is strangely seductive. With each stoke of my paddle, more of her beauty is revealed, like a shawl slowly slipping from the shoulders of a beautiful woman...
It takes us almost 20 minutes to reach the far interior of Puerto Escondido. As we had hoped, from there is is only a 50 meter portage over the rocks back to the sea. The wind and waves begin to pick up after a bit as we paddle north along the coast. We need rest and shade and aim for a tiny, very interestingly shaped island in the distance. It turns out to be an excellent choice, for after a break, we decide to circumnavigate it on foot and discover it's impressive biodiversity. As we walk, we see skeletons of birds, trigger fish, crabs and even a seahorse. There are rocks are covered with a species of tiny (5mm) mussels and a great variety of cactus cling to there existence here, in 'the land with no rain', to borrow the phrase from the title of the Mary Austin book I am reading. There is also a huge variety of human detritus. We pick up as many plastic bottles and cans as we can carry as mitigation or penitence for human transgressions which we know, are also our own. A mother gull nests on the ground along our path. She does not squawk like the others, but stands resolute before us with never a though of abandoning her 2 green eggs. We admire her defense of life, and turn away. Back by the water, I unscrew the forward hatch cover and we slip each of the plastic bottles we have collected through the small opening, like we might do in a recycle can. "Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet", the Sierra Club motto comes into my head. Everyday.

Day 11 Kayak camping: Loreto to Isla Carmen

Day 11 Kayak camping: Loreto to Isla Carmen
Neither Of us slept much after 3:30. We had planned on getting up at 5:30, but the incessant rooster crowing and our own anticipation woke us up, and we dozed at best after that. So it was that we found ourselves carrying sleeping bags, 4 gallons of water, food, clothes and other gear down to the water in the dark. After stowing everything in our kayaks, we are on the water at 6:15, just before sunrise.
Shahe makes a magnificent silhouette in the golden light as our boats glide south on the silky smooth water. Within 10 minutes, the Sea of Cortez begins to come alive; we see egrets, turtles, frigate birds and now cormorants, spreading their winds to dry in the sun. We stop to inspect a beached pilot whale, well attended by vultures.
After two hours, it is very clear that we are making excellent progress. We are crossing the straight between the mainland and Danzante Island. The water is still like glass and we wee a whale spouting off the coast of Isla Carmen, many miles distant. Usually, a kayaker takes the crossing in jumps, mainland to Danzante to Carmen. But today there is a whale! And so, we alter our course by 40 degrees to the north, hoping that it will continue to feed. The spout spray erupts 100 feet into the air, this is a large whale. A distant sailboat under power see it as well and begins to track it cautiously. We continue our approach, closing the distance to maybe a mile or so before it disappears. We continue our paddling toward Isla Carmen for many minutes. The sailboat has given up and continues north. The whale surfaces again, floating only 200 yards from us. We glide silently forward, closing the distance by one half and stop, not daring to breath. But the whale breathes for us and through us. The great rush of exhaled air vibrates the atmosphere, we feel and much as hear it. It is a magnificent Fin Whale, at least 60 feet long (Gray's average 40-50), with it's black back glistening in the sun between dives. When it disappears, we search the horizon, hoping for it's return, when it resurfaces, it is as if a long lost friend has been found. And the breathing, oh the rapture we feel as it's great lungs renew themselves and us as well.
Untracked time passes. We sense that the audience granted us by this noble creature is over. Retreating like humble servants, heads bowed, we back away and re-enter our own space. Over our shoulders, the great Fin's exhale can be heard and we cast one more look, it's back is more sharply bowed as it makes a deep dive and we see the fins for which it is named disappearing beneath the smooth shining water. We continue to hear the breathing for 10 minutes as we move away from each other. It is a sound that has stayed with us both for days, even now, writing these words, I can close my eyes and feel the breathing, slow and powerful, peaceful and regular, like the Earth itself.

The next sound I remember is a rushing of waves. At the horizon to the south we see the noisy wave coming toward us. Our first reaction is to think Tsunami, so loud is the sound. The water boils and is fast approaching. Our concern turns at once to joy, the sea is alive with 200 dolphins, racing toward us shoulder to shoulder in a huge line like a welcome army. And indeed we are liberated by the sight, leaving our earthly ties to time and space once more. The sound increases, pandemonium ensues and still they do not change course. We are as excited as children by this wondrous gift. they are now within range of even my simple point and shoot camera. It is laboriously slow, but I manage to take just under a dozen shots as they turn suddenly fifty yards in front of us and cross our bows. Without changing speed, they rush past, heading north. There are almost a hundred of them in the air at any one time and the splashing is deafening. Like the Fin, we continue to hear it miles away...
We reach Isla Carmen by lunch, and have covered over a dozen miles. After a respite, we head down along the shore toward the southern tip, with nearly twenty miles of island stretching gracefully behind us. By mid afternoon, we find the perfect pocket beach for our needs and pull ashore to camp.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 7

Day 7 Baranca to somewhere in the hills above San Jose de Comandu
This day begins amazingly. I awake from a dream to see the pre-dawn light silhouetting tall Cordon cactus. The yesterday's mountain range stands like a wall in the distance. I rise quickly, and quietly so an so to disturb Shahe, slip on my shoes, grab the old point and shoot digital camera I have been using and head off towards the rising sun, taking as many pictures as I can as the light changes. 20 minutes later, the magic has evaporated with the coming of the day. I switch the camera off, realize my pants are unbuttoned and that I cannot see our camp. I have come a long ways. I use the images in my mind of the pictures that I took to trace my path back to where I see Shahe's dew covered sleeping bag drying on an acacia bush in the sun.
Much, much later, I am waiting for Shahe to change his shoes so that he can push his bike up this steep pitch on the hot, nearly barren mountain. I am thinking of the kind young Padre Isaias of the mission in La Purissima, who invited us in for a fine late breakfast. I am thinking of the my first sight of the Oasis, with it's tall palms and verdant fields. I am not thinking of the road ahead, but like the builders who's rebar extends far above the present height of the church we past, I think with hope for the future. Of making it to the next mission tonight.
In the distance see an arroyo filled with water. We have been riding for hours without helmets, trying to keep our heads cooler. The road marker says "9km". This is a doable distance. After a few more hills in the hot sun, there is a long rocky descent. My bike and style of riding are better suited to this than Shahe's. I careen down the road, bouncing, making split second decisions but never totally out of control. Suddenly, my front wheel buries itself in a pool of dust 6 inches deep, and I am pitched over the handle bars without warning. Everything stops. My hands have broken my fall, but the cleats in my shoes have not been able to Declip from my pedals (too much grit and dryness). I hear Shahe yelling "Are you alright?". He repeats it, but I cannot speak either the wind has been knocked out of me my the weight of the loaded bike or the pain in my right wrist is too great. I feel sick to my stomach but decide it is not broken. All Shahe can see is my head against the rocks. I yet back now that I am fine and struggle to declip and lift myself to my knees. The left one is bleeding abit. My wrist is bad. I breathe away the pain that I can. Shahe suggests that the bombarder should be wearing his helmet. I agree with him and we continue.
Later. Now the road is totally full of bowling ball sized volcanic boulders, strewn here by Hurricane Jimena a few years ago. It is impassible by even 4WD. It is no longer recognizable as a road. We must lift our bikes to roll them forward. We hike down into ravines that have been cut 8 feet below grade. I have learned that Shahe is a faster bike hiker that I am. Still, he is much depressed by our progress. We come upon a goat herding family from which we get 2 bottles of water, for by now we know that we will not make it to the next village. We disinfect it with chlorine. It is the worst tasting water I have ever had. It tastes like pond scum. I cannot drink more than the smallest sip. Night approaches and although I lobby for pushing on (in hopes of water to wash the sticky body that kept me awake in the middle of the last night) I must in the end agree with Shahe. We must stop now, just before dark, somewhere in the hills, an unknown distance from the village. We find a flat place away from the power lines that buzz EMF and set up camp. In the dark, I find that my shrimp cup of noodles can almost drown out the taste of the water I make it with. We have some of Padre Isaias' date bread for dessert, happy to have it and our friendship to share. The stars are pin prick holes in a black curtain as I finish the day's journal...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 10

Day 10 Domingo, the day of rest
We walk to the Sunday market in the Arroyo and buy food for a big dinner. We also purchase some items for our 3 day kayak camping adventure, which begins at dawn tomorrow. We cruise through the old town part of Loreto and return along the Malacon where we stroll along the sea, looking toward our next day's route south. I spend much of the rest of the day posting my blog and packing. Shahe goes on a run to Nopolo and back (12 miles round trip). His demons require more pain than mine.

Day 10 Domingo, the day of rest

Day 9

Day 9 Near Ignacio's to Loreto

Predawn and just light enough to write down some of the thoughts that have escaped these pages. I think of how living this way, closer to the margin of existence makes me appreciate all life more. How I have learned to read the signs in the road, the depth of the sand that can be ridden without floundering, the difference between the coyote, fox, bobcat and puma tracks. How I sensitive I have become to the smells of a kitchen fire or a distant sea and the subtle changes in the humidity of the wind.
We listen to. the birds hidden in the brush in the hour before and after the sun rises and are filled with the peace of the desert, waiting in patience for the next rain. I think of the Californio's life. Goats, cows and dogs greet us in a variety of moods as we approach the rough, dry ranchos. I practice my Spanish on them, commenting on the day, introducing myself (especially to the dogs that chase us) in loud, exaggerated speech.
Shahe's rack is secured to his frame with twist ties and a plastic bottle cap (I never did figure out that last part), his right toe clip was broken days ago and he has fashioned a replacement out of baling wire, the zippers on his panniers are about to give up. But he doesn't. Ever resourceful and thrifty. He chooses to 'live on the edge, so that others may simply live', adapting the Gandhi quote.
I am wishing it possible to weave more of the poetry that the mind creates as I pedal. There is no way to stop to record it, it passes through me like clouds on the breeze, high above. I cannot hold these thoughts, nor share them, and they are perhaps the most beautiful part of my experience...
We stop again in San Ignacio, both hoping to see our good friend, but his brother tells us he is out somewhere working. We ask if we can get water again from his tank and while Shahe borrows some oil for his chain, I fill up my bottles and add the new chlorox. I fish a peppermint stick from last Christmas, and place it next to his toothbrush there at the side of the water tank. I think he will know....
Part way through the morning of our last (?) day's ride, we are hot and have discovered the new Chlorox is much stronger than what we had used before. We have over dosed the water and cannot drink it. We have 4 hours of riding before we make San Javier. I have stopped again to take a picture and Shahe has ridden ahead. I hear the distant rumbling of a truck laboring over the rocky road. Jumping on my bike I sprint for 5 minutes to catch up to him, so that we may plead our case. for a ride together. The ride we get saves us 3 hours of riding without water. Even still, when we do reach the village, I feel as if I am thirstier than I have ever been. We both buy a cold quart of tangerine juice for a dollar and down them immediately, then sit on a cool cement bench in the shade of a lemon tree, we have soaked out heads in water and we enjoy our lunch of tortillas and cheese...
An hour later and we stop once more to visit Raul and Angelina. They have company but welcome us to sit with them under the familiar thatched roof of their palapa. Some one drops off two baskets of strawberries from Santo Domingo. We each take one. Even with new water in my bottle from San Javier, I still taste too much Chlorine, and I drink in small sips between nibbles of my strawberry to mask the chemical. We thank them once more and say wee will see them again in a few years, ojAllah, (God Willing). They are old enough and the four of us are thinking of the many turns each of our lives can take.
The rest of our ride back to Loreto is uneventful. The climbs are brutal, the descents so fast as to drain the heat from our bodies, the long vista fill us with wonder. And the shower is fantastic!

Day 9 Near Ignacio's to Loreto

Day 8

Day 8 Above San Jose de Comundu to somewhere in the desert short of San Ignacio's Rancho.
We follow our daily rising ritual of eating in our sleeping bags, then hanging them up to dry while we pack and change for the day. The road is still very bad and requires some technical skill. There are several rises to negotiate, but within the hour, we can see the Cemetery in the hills before us. It is here I get our one and only pictured tire of the trip, caused by a embedded household variety staple of all such things. After fixing it in the sparse shade of a Palo Verde tree, we investigate the crude cemetery and read the kind words someone wrote on the grave of a woman teacher who lived to be 60. Continuing on down the rough road, pass through the garbage dump before entering the Oasis of San Jose de Comandu. Once again, I am amazed at the presence of water here in the desert, and by the magnificent palms which clog the bottom of the arroyo, providing roofing and wall material for the inhabitants. Everyone has small gardens and flowers on their porches. Friendly " BueƱos Dias's" are exchanged, but we can see also the signs of hardship in the many empty and dilapidated buildings. In the nearby village of San Miguel de Comundu, we stop for food and drink. We ask if we can eat in the adjoining garden, and are joined first by the husband and later the wife, who own the store, it not being necessary for anyone to stay at the counter here. A wonderful conversation ensues, interrupted by attempts to interject humor with my rudimentary Spanish. We leave town with the knowledge that the newly constructed pavement is but 8 miles away.
By the time we reach the smooth surface, our sit bones are suffering the injustice of days off road. The wind is against us and increasing and the sun is hot. We again draft each other, Shahe pulling uphill, me pulling the flats and down hills. After a couple of hours of this, the road turns south and the wind now comes from our side. We pull into Pancho Villa, this time arriving from the north east, the road turns to sand and we stop for provisions. Tortillas, cheese and water. We discover that Shahe had inadvertently donated his water purification drops from his Nepal trip to the people of San Miguel. Cross cultural exchange. So we buy some Chlorox as well before continuing on our way. Remembering how horrible the next stretch of road is, we make a sign from some cardboard on the road, advertising Santa Domingo as our destination and soon find ourselves traveling with Dagoberto, who is taking a huge tire from the road construction machines we had passed hours earlier on down to. Zaragosa for repair. He drops us off the beginning of our previous nemesis, the horrible dust and rock road that leads to San Javier. Again the torture. At the beginning we are encouraged by the wind at our backs. But soon the drudgery of walking in the sand begins to wear on us. It is getting dark and again there will be no washing of bodies sticky with sweat and dust. Shahe offers me half of his water (for cleaning up) if I will agree to stop for the night. He is my buddy. I agree to stop as gracefully as I can. I thank him for the offer, but use my own water that night for another very unsatisfactory sponge bath. I put my pants and shirt on inside out. Shahe is beat and falls asleep soon after eating. Again I write. I turn off my headlamp and peer once more into the black curtain...

Day 8 Above San Jose de Comundu to somewhere in the desert short of San Ignacio's Rancho.

Day 6

Day 6 Rancho de San Ignacio to Baranca
We bid our benefactor adios and continue our way west, crossing the arroyo one more time (dry here) before riding on through 20 miles of rocky road on land where even the cactus refuse to survive. There are a series of low hills which we climb in hopes of a glimpse of the ocean, but each time we are denied, feeling only the wind from the west against us. There are long stretches of deep fine sand where we are forced to dismount and drag our bikes. Three and a half hours (and one cold coke given to us by a farmer) later, we find ourselves food and drink in Santo Domingo (and pavement!). We enjoy a long lunch, I introduce Shahe to a liquid yogurt drink similar to Keifer and we are entertained by Sindy and Monica, sisters ages 6 and 4. We ask the store owner if we can get water and he directs us to a hose bib in his yard. With full water bottles, some cheese and tortillas, we start north on the highway.
The wind has stiffened, we try drafting but it is difficult because the are many large holes in the pavement. Then we encounter a seemingly endless series of ripped up road sections. Sometimes, if we are lucky, a parallel dirt road appears. Overall the. road is about 50/50 paved and ripped up in alternate sections. We are not going to make it to La Purissima to sleep behind the Mission as Shahe had done on his December solo trip 5 years ago. After several hours of this it is almost 6 and we decide to try and hitch hike at Francisco Villa, a dusty, unpaved town along our way. No one is on the highway leading north from here. We see only a handful of cars in 45 minutes, and none with room for our bikes and us. Shahe says we should give up and find a place in the village to camp. I said ok, but let's try this last car I see two miles in the distance. It takes about 5 minutes for him to reach us, but he does stop his old red Izuzu pickup and we manage to fit the bikes and us in around a huge truck tire in the bed of the truck. Flying along the highway, we smile at our good fortune (unable to talk over the wind) and get a ride for maybe 18 miles to the road to Baranca, a small fishing village. The driver invites us to come into town to camp there, but we decline as it is out of our way and we are prepared to spend the night in the desert. For a quarter mile, we follow a dusty farm road that winds through the cactus before settling on a flat spot to camp. Spreading out our sleeping bags, inflating out mats, eating so me cheese and tortillas, Shahe is soon ready to sleep. I attempt a failed sponge bath and write these words in my journal before once again drifting off to sleep under the stars. I think I hear the ocean waves in the distance....

Day 5

Day 5 Journal Entry

The bicycle camping portion of our Baja Expedition covered some 250 miles from Loreto on the Sea of Cortez over to Baranca on the Pacific side and back. Of this, there were 60 miles which we did not ride, choosing to hitch hike and accept rides in the back of pickup trucks for sections that were unpleasant which we had previously traversed.Day 5 Loreto to San Ignacio
We headed off throughout the dirt roads in the barrio de Zaragosa. the road was filled with rocks along the arroyo and vultures perched atop tall Cordon cactus peered down upon these strange Americanos on bicycles loaded with camping gear. crossing the highway, a new, paved road lead toward San Javier. We climbed into the mountains and stopped at an arroyo crossing where native palm trees were reflected in a pool of water. it hasn't rained in a year and a half and the water surfaces intermittently along the arroyos of Baja, which are mostly dry river beds of sand and rock. Near the top of the pass, the pavement stops and the road is rocky in the center and dust fills the edges.
After a couple hours, we stop to visit and get water from Raul and Angelina, who own a Rancho (most ranchos in Baja are small simple farm buildings with palm thatched roofs, near meager water sources), friends of Shahe's from previous bike trips. They reminisce about the time that Shahe showed up in the dark on his bike and slept beneath the palm thatched palapa where we now sit, enjoying a slow, relaxed conversation in the heat of the day. We fill our bottles with water pumped by the old windmill and Raul picks us a few lava beans before we say adios and promise to stop in again in three days.
Continuing on, we see vultures eating on dead cows along the road, the drought has been especially hard on them. By mid day, we have reached the town of San Javier. I buy my first meal of the trip, tortillas with goat cheese and avocado, at the simple restaurant on the plaza which leads to the Mission, which is a destination for annual pilgrimages. We explore the grounds and a path leading to a 300 year old olive tree, twisted by time, but with strong young branches woven into the old ones. We play frisbee with some school kids, tighten the bolts on our bikes and fill our water bottles, adding drops of chlorine as usual and continue refreshed.
We ride for hours through the desert, following the arroyo much of the way. The watering holes are well separated, the road is strewn with rocks, so me times we see goats. Shahe's bike has only a simple front suspension. The rocks begin to wear on him, and his mood is not great. It is getting dark and it has become clear that we will not make it to near the coast as he wanted. We come upon a large open, flat area with a small, rough wood casita near the road across from a well tended field. A small thin man appears out of nowhere. I slow, then stop to greet him. We shake hands and then he hugs me. In amazement, I watch him do the same with Shahe. Whole paragraphs of friendly words are exchanged and despite our weariness, we cannot help but smile and be lifted by his genuine kindness toward these two dusty strangers. "Ignacio, sus
or dines.". Can we camp here? "Claro que si". He insists on bringing us warm water from a well pipe and struggles to carry 2 full five gallon buckets of it to us as we set up camp. He then excuses himself to tend to his cattle and goats, and I wash body and clothes free of dust. It will be the only time it turns out to be possible durning out 5 day trip, but I don't know this then...
After we have washed and eaten, Ignacio again appears seemingly out of this air and we talk for an hour in the dark. We learn that he is one of 16 children born here on this Rancho is the desert (all the ranchos we saw were small assemblages of rough build, thatched roof structures, adjacent to widely spaced meager water supplies). He tells us that he attended some high school as an adult in Santa Domingo and that his parents live a couple of hundred meters down the road. We talk of everything from politics to constellations, crops and water to education. Shahe (ever the news junkie) asks if he knows about the current state of affairs in Japan and Ignacio says he listens to it on his radio in his casita. We are 20 miles from electricity and at least 40 from a flush toilet, and I have never in my 59 years seen anyone happier and more giving. Shahe calls him our angel, and if this is what angels are like, then I must try to be one. With these thoughts in my head, I finish my journal entry for the day, writing my my head lamp, Shahe,Ignacio and the cows all asleep now, under a sky filled with more stars that I have ever seen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 4 Kayaking North from Loreto to Coranado Island

Day 4 Kayaking North from Loreto to Coranado Island
Now, after 3 days of driving and over 1200 miles, we are in Loreto. Last night we unpacked and took our first showers since leaving Aptos. Today was our first kayaking trip. Next door neighbor Bill lent us 2 kayaks, sprayskirts and paddles. We packed sleeping bags and food so that we could spend the night if conditions got too back to return by dark and were on the water before 9. Conditions for the first 85 percent of our trip were perfect. We covered the 7 miles from Adom's (Shahe's brother) place on the beach to Coranado Island in 2 hours and 15 minutes. My arms began to hurt after the first half mile. I knew I was in trouble. After a bit, I began to remember what I had learned, I beg an twisting my torso with each stroke, to relieve the strain on my forearms and shoulders, I paid more attention to my stroke angles, I adjusted my seat and foot pegs and was able to keep pace with Shahe (who paddles several times a week--I paddle 3-5 times a year). At least he made it look like I was keeping up with him. I suspected that he was taking it easy on me at this point, especially when he sprinted the last 300 yards to the lagoon where we had decided to eat lunch. It was gorgeous and the respite much appreciated. But Shahe wanted to press on and try to circumnavigate the island that he estimated had a 1.5 mile diameter. I did the math and decided it was worth a try. So much for a nap time. We got back into our trusty craft and headed around the volcano island. The rock formations were very impressive and made it easier to ignore the pain of my hands... blisters and a streaming tendon. When we neared the northern side of the island, we decided to turn back as the wind was forming whitecaps. We returned to the lagoon, ate some more lunch, I went for a short swim and when Shahe said he was going to take a short nap, I told him might also. After about 10 minutes, we gathered our gear and set off again. At first the wind, now finally behind us, increased our progress. Feeling quite confident in my abilities,I asked Shahe how far our day's trip would total. His estimate was18 miles. EIGHTEEN MILES my brain shouted, that THREE TIMES YOUR LONGEST KAYAK TO DATE. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?
It's. ok, things are going to be alright. It's just going to take awhile.
Take awhile they did, for the wind began to shift, first coming from the East, then south and them for the entire end of the trip, blowing right in our faces and creating rolling waves for us to fight through. I looked at the shoreline. It didn't appear to be moving. At least that meant we weren't losing ground. Shahe kept asking me if I was ok. He was worried that My blood sugar might not be that good. I told him that I could make it and asked if he could. He told me we would make it together. and so we did. Afterwards he told me that it had been a long paddle for him too, and that he was a. glad to have a friend who could do such things with him. That was really nice to hear. Even if I figured he was trying to kill me. Tomorrow we start a 4-5 day self supported mountain bike trip across the Baja peninsula to the Pacific side and back. Kayaking I had done 'right out of the box', without preparation. Biking, I am in shape for. We'll see how that works out.....

Day 3

Day 3 Guerrero Negro to Loreto
We woke up to clear blue skies and flat water. Amazingly after last night's wind, the water appeared as glass. I bought a ticket and an hour later was stepping onto a ponta floating on the Lagoon. where the highest number of grey whales is found on Earth. The high count this year was 1500 before the males and few of the others had left. Now there are approximately 600 females and calves left. It turns out to be more than enough for a very satisfying morning. We motored out to. where we could spot a number of grey whales, and soon they were everywhere around us. A "Friendly" appeared and we spend half an hour at least with her. It was one of the most profoundly spiritual moments in my life. Here is an animal that humans hunted and messily murdered only a (whale and human) generation ago, and it has forgiven us. When I think of how long humans hold their bitterness and how it comes out generation after generation between different becomes clearer that ever to me that we are not the most evolved species on the planet. I walked away enveloped with a sense of deep peace, like I have never known.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 2

Day 2 Ensenada to Guerrero Negro

We packed up and were on our way by 7. Shahe took me a a short tour of the fish market in Esenada, we changed dollars for peso and then continued our way south. During the day we stopped at 3 military check points, where young soldiers with semi-automatic rifles asked us questions then waved us through. We traveled past crop land and green fields, shallow streams and olive groves, strawberry fields, hours of high desert with an amazing diversity of cactus and finally miles of sand dunes and salt flats before arriving at the lagoon previously known by the name of the whaling captain that murdered so many of the magnificent sentient beings that migrate along the coast of both Californias each year. Tonight again we are blessed by a burning orange sunset and huge moon, this time rising golden at the horizon. Shahe's flute playing and the wind have replaced last night's ocean music, we play rummy again but this time I win, the wind totally disappears suddenly and we fall asleep to an utterly silent moon glow.

Day 1

Day 1
Aptos to Ensenada (almost)
As our journey south begins, we are treated to Green hills all the way down into northern Baja. It was all easy driving except for San Diego traffic, and we decided to cross into Mexico at the border upon learning that Visas weren't required. We chose a toll route, "Scenic Highway 1", that lived up to its name south along the coast. The dramatic Islas de Coranado lay off shore and later we were treated to a fine view of the sun, lit up like a tall ship on fire, sinking into the water. The coast here reminds both of us of our own beloved Big Sur. The road hugs the cliff, and there is little to mar nature's raw beauty. As dusk gathered, we saw a small sign advertising family camping, and decided to abandon our plan of making it to Ensenada that day. We soon were to be most pleased with our decision. Winding down a steep dirt road, we came to a guard gate, where we were greeted by Francisco, a polite man who informed us that it would cost $15 USD to camp here, which included our pick of the campsites as there were no other campers. We settled on a small rise above the water, quickly setup camp and strolled out to our little deserted rocky beach. A heavy surf pounded the shore, each wave pulled scores of boulders into the water as it retreated, only to toss them back in the next, the noisy repetition proved mezmerizingly beautiful. Not finished with this first day masterpiece, the oversized 'super'' moon rose, pouring it's light through a gap in the mountains above us to the East, illuminating the the surf line in a dazzling primal show. We had neither planned nor hoped for anything so nice as this, and after a pleasant time of playing cards by the truck's shell light, we drifted off to sleep in the moonlight, serenaded by the sea, alone and held close to the wild heart of life....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

T-1: We leave tomorrow morning

Today, the truck became an expedition vehicle.  Under the shell, below the platform, are packed a great assortment of healthy food, my wet suit and snorkel gear, several gallons of water, a well equipped tool box, a first aid kit, flashlights, a mini cook stove,  bike gear and clothes for a wide range of activities.  On top of the platform are my sleeping bag, the mountain bike that was my brother's, my panniers and a folded futon.  There is still room for Shahe's food, gear and his folding kayak.  He told me today that we don't need to over-plan, just head south tomorrow and see how it goes.  I am lucky to have a friend like that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

T-7 and counting

The Ranger is spending the weekend in the local Ford dealership,
waiting for one last repair before I pick it up on Monday and begin
packing. The mountain bike is getting new tires and tubes for the
abusive road/trail we will spend 4 days bike camping on. I am trying
to tie up a number of loose ends and finish some projects before we
hit the road south next Friday. Today I put together an extensive
tool kit and pulled out my camping and snokeling gear. Preparing to
be self-reliant is a satisfying part of this week. But the being
self-reliant will be the really fun part.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

prepping bike for Baja


test 3

David Casterson
Healed by the planet, i seek ways to reciprocate....Life is short,
Forgive, Hug and Smile, Follow your Heart, and Share the Good...

Baja Trip T-12 and counting...

12 days until the Adventure begins.  Today is is raining, so instead of going out on the bike to keep in share for the trip, I am going to work to make my mountain bike more prepared for what we will be asking of it on the 4 day self supported ride coast to coast across Baja. Specifically that means adding a rear rack to my full suspensioned Santa Cruz Super Light mountain bike.