Baja Mexico January 2015
I left Salt Lake on Jan 3 driving with my kayak on top. My trip had been delayed a bit while I fiddled with car repairs but got that all resolved and the truck is running well. I spent 2 days getting to California and spent a few days visiting old boat buddies at Dana Point. I launched my kayak there and sailed off shore about 3 miles and saw a grey whale rise and spout a ways off, and sailed through a big pod of dolphins. Excellent start to my trip I think!
I went on down to San Diego and connected with my old friend Barb, who had moved there from SLC a few years ago. We had lost contact for quite a while and it was nice to see her again and rekindle an old friendship.
I crossed over to Mexico at the brand new San Ysidro facility into Tiajuana. While I was in the queue there for my visa, a guy asked me if that was my kayak out there on the truck. Seems I look like a dirt bag boater no matter how fancy I dress. Turns out he also is traveling with a kayak to the same place I am headed. We hoped to connect somewhere along the way. He seems like a pretty experienced Mexico traveler.
My plan is to drive about 450 miles down the Baja highway to a town called Mulege. I am in no big rush so I am taking my time, enjoying the drive and camping along the way. The road is paved but in only fair condition in many places. It is steep, windy and narrow with no shoulder. The pavement is pretty uneven and bumpy so I drove pretty slow most of the way. Rarely did I go faster than 50. Everyone driving was pretty nice and accomodating, even the giant trucks, by trying to make it easy to pass or be passed when needed. The road winds around near the Pacific coast for the first couple hundred miles, weaving in and out of the steep hills that rise up off the ocean. The road passes through dozens of tiny towns every few miles, most with no paved streets except this highway. There are really big speed bumps all the way through every town to really make sure that everyone slows down! They are really poor towns, very dusty, with many tiny shops and markets, many looking like just a tent near the road or a plywood shack with a spray painted sign announcing they sell tires or pharmacy or shoes or fish tacos. Other than in Tiajuana and Ensenada, there are no big stores like Walmart or Home Depot. Everything was home grown in these little towns, life looked pretty tough and basic.
I camped the first night in the dunes near the ocean near San Quintuin. I couldn't see the ocean from my camp but it was very near and very loud, the big waves pounding onto the shore with a loud cannon-like boom. I was glad I was not having to land or launch my kayak in those conditions , but one the books I am reading is about a guy doing that very thing along that very same stretch of coast. (But I think he tended to find a sheltered bay, not trying to land on a surfing beach...) A chorus of coyotes sang to me as I made supper. That was to become a tradition almost every night of my trip!
The next day I drove on along through very dramatic Sonoran desert with every kind of cactus growing I think I have ever seen. Every so often the road would drop into a valley where there was much cleared land and farming. There were vineyards everywhere, I guess this is the new Napa Valley. There were also huge fields covered with gigantic shade cloth structures, I guess to protect the plants from the extreme heat (but a guy told me that they had snow there at Christmas! ) I was not sure what all was being grown but I saw cabbages, and beaver tail cacti in huge fields. Along the way there was a long line of cars stopped in the road from an accident up around the bend. I guess it was pretty bad, a guy had died, and it was going to close the road for quite a while. But fortunately right at the end of the line of cars was a really rough 4 wheel drive track heading off into the desert that allowed us all to bypass the accident and rejoin the road a mile or 2 along. Sweet!
I camped that night at Guerrero Negro, the town nearestest one of the big gray whale calving lagoons. I will explore more of that on my way home. It was raining a bit as I made camps, and then turned very foggy all night and much of the next morning. My tent gear was soaked by morning but I slept comfy in spite of that.
I drove on the next day to Lagoona San Ignacio, another whale calving lagoon area. I got there about noon and spent the day drying out and exploring. There several camps of fiber folk living out there, in old RVs or plywood shacks, some had cement block homes, all very small. There is no electricity or water out here, they all had a water tank on a little tower above each home, and a solor panel or wind generator. Whole families are living out here, kids playing in the dirt track, ladies doing laundry in barrels, men working on small boats and fishing rigs. I wonder if the kids live out there their whole life? I did not see any schools. The nearest store or water was 25 miles of good and very bad slow road.
jan 10 I drove into Mulege about noon. tanking up with water and tortillas and then head on down to where I expect to launch the boat for a 5-6 day cruise around bahia Conception.