Tuesday, March 4, 2008

San Diego to Loreto, Baja Sur

Sunday, February 17, 2008
San Diego! We have been headed this way for weeks, today we made the final jump from the mountains to the shore. We had very little traffic in the city, Sunday we guess.

We plan to go to the zoo and the USS Midway and drive up to La Jolla if we have time.

We leave for Baja Friday morning. No phone for a month. Internet from time-to-time. We will think of you.

Monday, February 18, 2008
Today we drove to LaJolla, doing the tourist thing. I even got a haircut, but it isn’t the best one that I have had.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
At long last (more than 40 years) we visited the San Diego Zoo. Dorothy was there when her father was a in the Navy and she was a little girl and Don was there when he was a young man in the Navy. As you can image, it has changed. We spent four hours walking around and looking at animals we did not know existed and probably saw about half of the zoo. There are some beautiful birds that we both enjoyed. Also we got to see two snow leopards that were having lunch, which was pretty exciting. The current main feature of the zoo is the baby panda that is just a couple of months old. There is a two year old panda that was very active. The baby sleeps 20 hours a day and mama sleeps 12 hours a day and eats bamboo the other 12. It was her naptime.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
We discovered that we did not understand the Baja schedule. We have orientation Friday and leave Saturday. We are somewhat disappointed because we are so ready to get to Baja. Tomorrow is another free day and hopefully we will do more sightseeing. When you travel as we do, then mundane chores are a must. Today was that day. We went to Wal-Mart, Costco and Albertson, came home and had lunch and then had four loads of laundry to do. Doesn’t that sound like fun! Don replaced some of the keys that were lost or mislaid in Florida.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
We parked the car for our Midway visit at a memorial to Bob Hope entertaining the troops. Also there was an extremely large statue of a WW II sailor kissing a nurse, called Total Surrender. It made me think of my parents. We spent the day touring the USS Midway. It was a real treat for us. The carrier is a generation older than the one I was on. I don’t recall ducking so much on the Connie, but after 43 years my memory is dim. I wanted Dorothy to experience how big a carrier really is. She finally “got” how difficult landing a plane really is when a naval aviator explained it to her on the flight deck.

Another carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan #76, was in port. I was especially excited about that. I don’t know if it was because I remember the Reagan years so well, because we had seen a special on the Reagan on TV or because a fellow Windmill sailor, Will Bransom, served on her or all three. As Don is taking pictures, a former America’s Cup boat sailed in front of the Regan. Totally great day!

Friday, February 22, 2008
This was orientation day. We endured a 2.5 hour talk about what to expect in Baja. We all went out to dinner together at a Chinese buffet, where the food was surprisingly good. Don went back four times and never touched the Chinese food.

Saturday, February 23, 2008
We got away at 9:30 and arrived in Ensenada at 12:15. At several places the view of the surf is as good as it gets. There are precious few turnouts and none big enough to accommodate 15 rigs. So we missed getting any good pictures. The price of traveling in a group.

After lunch and waiting around, we went to immigration office to get our papers and found that the office closed at 2. The guide says he has plan B.

We all went into town and all wound up in Hussan’s Bar. We did not like the margaritas, so we went next door to get some fish tacos. We then walked a few blocks and got back to the CG by 5, finding that most of the others were already back. The band at the Cantina across the street played until 4:30 am.

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Ensenda to San Quintin We have left the popular area and entered Baja. We camped on the beach. The beach is like Port St. Joe, FL, but a whole lot better. There is nothing but beach for miles. The dogs had a ball. We drove the Jeep five miles down the beach enjoying the square waves breaking. We picked up a few rocks. Back at the CG, we had a margarita party. It’s still a cool at night, but hopefully that will improve further south.

Monday, February 25, 2008
San Quintin to Catavina is an enjoyable drive from the coast through low mountains in a high desert environment. Peak elevation was 2,200. Catavina is about 1,800’ in area of big granite boulders. We have never seen so many types of cactus in one place. Puts Big Bend to third class. Tremendous saguaro, forests of boojum, four types of cholla.

Our CG is a former government camping facility. No hookups, but well laid out. After settling in, we went for a ride with fellow LDer’s, Ron & Mary Tribbett from CA, into the desert at places we had seen coming in. It was fantastic, cactus of all types, rocks, pools of water. Baja has had lots of rain this year so the cacti are gorgeous.

A word about our traveling companions – the group is about our age, only one couple not retired, a few older, educated, and a few travel as much as we do. They are quite enjoyable to be around. I guess because it’s a Lazy Daze group and all have dry camped before, we don’t have generators running all the time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Catavina to Bahia de los Angeles
The wagon masters say it will keep getting better and so far they are right. We crossed the low central mountains, 2,500 feet, to the Sea Of Cortez. Most of the drive was through unremarkable landscape like Arizona. We got to a valley filled with flowers, whites, yellows and purples. The wagon masters have been coming for six years and they have never seen the desert so green.

When we got near Bahia de los Angeles the view of he harbor had us slack jawed. Azul water. What a place to sail. And there is not a single yacht, power or sail, in the harbor.

We had some fine scallops and too much food for lunch, which is the main meal here. Then we had steak and too much food for dinner. Neither of us slept well from too much food.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The water was flat when we woke up at 6,so we had coffee, put the yaks in the water and paddled about two miles across the bahia to the lighthouse. Don walked the beach. Dorothy was chicken to get of the boat after nearly falling in the first time.

Remember the keys that we had to replace for the Jeep, for $182? Well, as I was getting dressed to go ‘yaking’ I felt something in my pocket – yep, it was the keys. Don’t know how they got there, but I didn’t do it and Don does wear my slacks!

We toured the “town” with Ron and Mary, took a nap, had a big lunch, went to the museum and watched a Nat Geo Imax movie, in DVD format, that was shot here. We then took another siesta.
Tomorrow we find out if we will be fined, jailed or what for not immigrating last Sunday.

I bought a small bottle “Vivo Villa” which is some kind of licor at 48 proof. Tastes pretty good from the bottle.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Bahia de los Angeles to Guerreo Negro. An uneventful drive through unremarkable terrain, a la southern Arizona. Our purpose here is take a whale watch in the morning and then head south. As much as we have seen of the city, it did not inspire us to tour it. It looks much like a border town, trashy. Our RV park is a has been, over-priced, but full hookups. Almost no water pressure. Back on Mountain Time.

On the way down, we stopped at the village of Jesus Maria and dropped off some school and medical supplies.

We have been illegal since Tuesday, but we got legal today without any problems. How was it done? I don’t know. The wagon masters took our passports, went to the Migration station and then returned our passports. Interesting, here you can cross into Mexico without any questions and later declare you are a tourist. If you stay less than 72 hours, you don’t need to do anything.

We have been waved through three military checkpoints where all they might check for are guns and drugs. Importing drugs to Mexico from the north? Oh well. It’s hoot to see a manned and armed sand-bagged position before you get to each checkpoint. I guess it gives the young men something to do while in service.

There is a border crossing from north Baja to south Baja. They are inspecting and confiscating fruit and then for $2 (mandatory), they spray the underside of your vehicle for fruit bugs.

Friday, February 29, 2008
Guerreo Negro to St Ignacio This is an oasis the desert. The Jesuits planted date palms and built a swell mission for 1.5 million pesos that’s still being used after 300 years. We bought some delicious date bread. One of the couples, George and Betty, celebrated their 11th anniversary and 44 years of marriage by hosting a margarita party.

The town was celebrating the 14th anniversary of their elementary school. Maybe that does not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to them. All the kids were dressed in school uniforms, all the officials were on a long podium and the town folk and a few tourista’s were watching from the shade of the oak trees.

The presentation of the flag and singing of the national anthem was poignant. All saluted and all sang. I have seen nothing like it in the US for too long. Respect for country, community and school. BTW, the kids were not figiditing and no one looked bored.

St Ignacio is the home of the internationally acclaimed Rice and Beans Restaurant. The food is better back home. The CG, by the same owner, was not much either. The voltage was too high, 147 volts and the water pressure was about nil. In short, a rip-off. The Lakeside RV park looked good. No hookups, but a scenic CG.

Saturday, March 1, 2008
St Ignacio to Santispac back to the Sea Cortez. The color of the water is as good as any I have ever seen, in person or in pictures. We are on the beach, no hookups and no complaints. There are some Canadians next to us that came for one-day, and that was two months back. I am wondering why we don’t just stop here. La Paz is supposed to be good, but Cabo is supposed to suck, lots of tourists and maybe even cruise ships which keep prices high.

The water temperature is as warm as Frank’s pool gets in August. I took the yak out for a short paddle in the lagoon. The land breeze was a bit much, but it laid down before sunset. In case we haven’t mentioned it before, life is good!

Sunday, March 2, 2008
We paddled the yaks before breakfast and before the land breeze came in. In our lagoon, Bahia Conception, are several communities of ex-pats. We drove a few clicks south to El Coyote and found Jerry Pawson, an LDer we met in Oregon two years back. This is their fourth year here. Dorothy wants to come back. El Coyote is $150 a month with palapya, no hookups and a view to die for.

We had a cookout on the beach featuring the biggest prawns we have ever seen.

Monday, March 3, 2008
Santispac to Loreto. This is one of the oldest towns in Baja. It’s on the gulf side. It comes complete with a charming mission. Loreto also has some paved streets!

We had a good lunch of tacos, beans and guacamole at the CG restaurant. I think the first restaurant we have been to on Baja that was air-conditioned. Most of the wait staff and locals eating there were of Spanish decent, not Indian.

Keeping the vehicles half clean is a daily chore. Start with a desert, no pavement when you pull off the highway for gas or any other service, add strong winds and dust finds it’s way into the vehicles. This is not America. There is a saying here, bad roads bring good people, good roads bring bad people.

The prices for groceries are about the same, sometimes higher than the US. Liquor is higher. Gas is much lower and so is propane. The latter two are more efficient than the US products.

Tonight, most of the group went to a swell restaurant for Sonoran beef. We already had a cooked steak and elected to stay in camp, do laundry, shower and avoid mob dining.

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