Friday, March 29, 2019

BC to BAJA and BACK (part one)

This is another travel blog.  My husband Arnt turned 60 Dec 2018 and I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday and "surf in Baja" was his answer.  So we loaded up our truck with camp gear and headed out.

Coast of Oregon via the number 1 highway was our choice of route.  First stop was Astoria which I don't think we had been back to since we sailed there 39 years ago.  We stayed at this fab motel called Atomic Motel. 

Entrance to the Columbia River ... pretty challenging port to enter.

Fabulous Maritime Museum
Lots of boats and marine history. There was an incredible display about World War 2.  I normally don't go to these but this one really struck me.  The flags below were carried by the Japanese soldiers with names and sayings from their homes.  The US is now returning these to the families they can find.  They were war souvenirs taken by the US soldiers. 

We meandered down the coast stopping for all the amazing views and taking short hikes.  The waves were huge but no shape and pretty cold so no surfing or boogie boarding for us. Traveling at xmas time comes with some challenges.  Empty motels and no restaurant and coffee shops open.  We had xmas dinner in a casino.  

Ended up in Manhattan Beach staying with some friends.  Alison is an architect and built their lovely home.  We also popped into LA with some friends to take in some art and dinner.  They live in the arts district where they are taking the old factory buildings and turning them into loft spaces and artists studios.  Very LA as it is pretty elegant with lofts starting at $3000 per month and valet parking at some of the restaurants.  Not sure how much the art studios go for.

pink installation Manhattan Beach
huge art installation by B. Wurtz

Calder exhibit and also giant ones in the courtyard

Crossed the border into Mexico which is really just an agent waving you in.  No questions or stopping.  We missed the customs to get our tourist cards stamped but no one ever asked us for it anyway.  We were hoping our favourite Ensenada taco stand Las Brisas was still there and open. It was.  They serve basic tacos but give you all kinds of sides like roasted spicy peppers and a variety of salsas.  All for about $5 for two.  

last stop at Trader Joe's to get special snacks

The drive down the Baja was different in that everything was incredibly green with the desert floor covered in green and flowers.  On the way home it was even greener.  We spent New Year's in a very noisy town in a cheap motel.  But next day we celebrated on the beach on the Sea of Cortez. 
Happy New Year!

first camp in Baja at El Burro
Arnt shopping for a new car!
we had to cross this tidal stream to get to our camp
this guy was great...he had great yellow feet that he would
 shake about in the sand to flush out the fish

 Mexico is in constant flux from beautiful to sad!

His and Hers
all about the heart at the cemetery stops

Really are you open??
Catavina gas station (it is actually on the map)

We made it to our surf beach and set up camp.  It is a remote place and you have to take everything and all your water. We go to town every 8 to 10 days depending on how long our ice lasts. Spent about 5 days surfing and relaxing and then off to La Paz (our nearest town....half an hour on a dirt road and the the last hour on the highway) to meet some old friends we met 25 years ago and they came from Minneapolis to celebrate their 50th birthdays.  We took in some art, music, churches, museum, crypts, snorkeling and picnics on the beach, bit of souvenir shopping, photo walks and lots of street food and dinners at the beach restaurants.

our camp with outdoor kitchen and shade shelter
Shrimp tacos
Super Burro
 dinner on the malecon
Picnic and snorkeling at Tecolote where we saw octopus, manta ray, trigger fish, coral and mullet

Kristi and I
creative signage

Street Art

the artist will be back


an abandoned bar that Michael and Arnt went to
 Our place and view



A coincidence that while we were in La Paz four of our Strathcona neighbours were an hour away in a town called Las Barilles and invited us to come down for a couple days.  The two guys were staying in a Mexican design home and the gals were in a modern home.  We had great dinners, drinks and dancing.  We used to camp here when there was pretty much a tienda (small shop) and restaurant and that was it.  Now it is a built up gringotenango (town of foreigners) which is happening all over the Baja Sur.

our room
took our hosts out for dinner on the beach

Rick treated us to a catered Mexican dinner. These are the cooks.
The owners of this brand new modern two bedroom rental came to the dinner and gave us 
a tour of their place which is also on the property.  There is also a one bedroom for rent. 

we could be a band!
On the way back to our camp we went through El Triunfo, a town we really liked years ago.  It was an old silver town that had pretty much been abandoned.  There was one woman selling baskets then and we bought one that we still use today. Now they have embraced the tourist trade with hikes, crafts and a music museum.  I love the buildings in this town. 

great ranch vehicle

Back to beach camping.  Our next 7 weeks consist of Arnt surfing 40 days, fishing, walks on our deserted beach, 4x4 trips up the arroyos (dry river beds) to look for fossils, flowers and plant life, hanging out with friends, scrabble, reading, making great food and grilling over the fire, campfires every night and star gazing.  Ahhhh... the life!

The Surfer

scrabble on the dunes when the surf is down

The Fisherman



he used his kayak a lot for fishing and exploring

The Fish Camp
The fishermen come from other towns for 4 or 5 days, live in these shacks and fish out of pangas which is a 25 foot fibreglass boat with an outboard motor.  They hand line, drops nets and lobster traps.  Every few days Ricardo comes by our camp with a fresh Sierra for our barbecue. 
Note the modern conveniences of solar panels and satellite dishes.

This is an abandoned lobster trap that is rusting on the beach.  We pull them up to the bottom of the dunes so they will become part of the stabilization of the dune (we hope).  We also gather the abandoned polyprop rope and other fishing trash that will break down and end up in the ocean and take it inland to the garbage. 

The Cook
making salsa fresca

 Some of the arroyos have rough roads up them so we go up there and then walk.  Each one is different.  Some have abandoned ranches but they all have an abundance of plant life.  Wild life too but they mostly come out at night.  Around our camp we have had 4 foot rattlers (3) and gopher (1) snakes, coyotes, rabbits, 27 varieties of birds that we sited, gray whales, humpback whales breaching every day, sea lions, turtles, manta rays and several types of fish.  One day we had about 100 dolphins swim by and the ones closest to the beach were surfing in the waves!! So cool.

4' rattler

This great blue heron started arriving near our camp at sunrise and is over 5' tall.

 a few of the flowers on the cactus and plants

fossil hunting
one of the larger saguaro cacti

while up the arroyos we gather wood that has washed down during storms and dried out quite nicely

truck in cave cause we can
This is the caretaker, Nardo's windshield and well used.
He remembered us from 12 years ago and had us over for lobster machaca. He has 
been there for 23 years.  A bit of a lonely life I thought but he says he has the best job.

 The lunar eclipse Jan 20 happened while we were there.  
Our neighbours had us over for a fire and we all brought
telescopes and binoculars.  It was absolutely clear, with no ambient 
light and once it got dark we saw so many more stars than usual. 
The moon itself looked like a plastic weird.

This is pretty much what the beach looks like every day....deserted!
It is now time to head north and slowly make our way home.
I have more pics that are in Part Two.

No comments:

Post a Comment