Both Worlds

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here! We were awhile without internet. We’re slowly making our way north on the Baja peninsula now exploring some neat spots. We plan to be back in the US in a few weeks.

The nights are cooler, the days are still warm & sunny (the sun feels very strong) but when it sets, we end up retreating to our trucks earlier than we used to or piling into one because it gets chilly fast. We’ve been having a really nice time traveling with Sandie, Karsten & Ivan.

Celebrating Karsten’s birthday!
There’s plenty of WIND in La Ventana!

Backing up to January, we gathered in the town of La Ventana to celebrate Karsten’s birthday on the 20th. We stayed in a campground to make things easy for a meet-up with one of their friends Jeannie from Idaho as well as to explore the area a little. They threw a great party and treated us to homemade smoked BBQ and all kinds of fancy stuff bought at the Costco in San Jose! It was great to finally meet Jeannie after hearing so much about her and Fabian joined us along with Werner & Uli. We took group walks, ran together, swam and of course stuffed our faces. The following day was my mom’s birthday, which we had to celebrate from afar. That is the hardest part about wanting to wander in faraway places or far enough places where getting back is difficult.

There was so much wind we took turns blocking the wind for each other- haha.

La Ventana is a well loved kiteboarding spot popular with Americans for second homes and visitors alike. An island just offshore runs close to the tip of a cape making a chute for the wind to whip through, especially in the winter. A whole town has grown up around it. Fortunately, lovers of the outdoors can’t kiteboard the entire day so they’ve made some cool mountain bike trails in the desert surrounding the town. This is some gorgeous desert that’s been untouched otherwise and the cardon cactus are among the larger ones we’ve seen. Jon & I biked all around one day on trails and it was so fun weaving through the cactus on an extensive single track network. It’s a real gem and the best part about La Ventana for us since we’re not in to kiteboarding.

Bahia de los Muertos

Our group moved to another spot further away called Bahia de los Muertos for a change of scenery and a break from the wind. Jon & I did some snorkeling there but it had nothing on our old favorite Punta de los Muertos so we moved there eventually with Ivan. Destined at one time to become a housing development with investors from Spain, the whole project fell through in the crisis of 2008 after an elaborate approach road decorated with stone walls had been built and a couple of sand paths through a beautifully green stretch of desert. Nothing else was disturbed, so this place is now just perfect for the few people who come down on the lonely road that meets a lovely beach with nothing else around except a few fishermen in the distance. The snorkeling is really nice there and this time, sea lions would haul out in the evening on the rock island just offshore to spend the night. So add that to the variety of night sounds we’ve gone to bed too- arfing sea lions. More relaxing than a bear coming crashing through your campsite, for sure.

A perfect calm day. Jon & I swam to both of those rocky islands exploring the reef.
Sea lion relaxing

That flat calm day, Jon and I finned a few miles all around the triangle of islands just offshore and the sea was like glass. It kept calling to us to get back in. I love how when you’re in the water, you can usually swim right up to birds resting on the rocks because they don’t see you as a threat. I spent most of my time distracted between looking under water or above it because both were so colorful and beautiful. By that evening, we were pretty tired. Sitting out for an especially colorful sunset, a couple of whales went swimming by in front of us. Ivan got the drone out to capture the sunset and spotted some of the sea lions in the water just lying there hanging out with their fins sticking out of the water. A few days later in La Paz, we saw one relaxing doing the same thing.

Another sea lion..
A little hiking at Punta de los Muertos and a slight incline adjustment of the picture! Climbing is really easy!
Gelato fix! The best we’ve found in Baja is in La Paz
View from our cool La Paz campsite

We made one last stop in La Paz to meet up with Fabian again and to get some internet before heading to the Pacific side. We really like that campspot by the Navy base and there’s always fishermen tending their nets which means plenty of seabirds too. Someone put it in the app we use to find campspots- IOverlander and apparently, it is becoming quite popular. I think there were at least 6 RV’s there that night.

Karsten giving a baby turtle a head start
This one was weak, he kept heading the wrong way up the beach

We drove down a washboard road to get to Playa Conejo, a beautiful spot on the Pacific with nothing there but surfers and a long, wide beach. The kind that you can bike on at low tide. So we got the bikes out for that and also took a lot of long walks. I’ve noticed that my feet are peeling from all the miles of sand that we covered. On one of our walks with Sandie & Karsten, we came upon a baby turtle making his way to the sea. He was upside down, trying to turn over and he seemed weak. We took him down to the tide line and that same thing happened where they wash back up in the surf. Then he would start walking the wrong way up the beach. Knowing this turtle didn’t have a lot of energy to spare, I carried him to the other side of the wave line and set it afloat there hoping that the worst would be over and maybe it could rest and survive. And still remember his way back to this beach in the future. We continued walking and then came upon another one! This one looking stronger and more fully developed. Karsten took it into the sea since it was such a very long beach and it started making its way through the surf. You just never know how it will all end up.

A coyote up on the cliffs
Gooseneck barnacles
Home sweet homes

The tide pools were fun and we even saw lots of lobsters and crabs tucked into the rocks. Ivan got busy harvesting gooseneck barnacles and then cooked them for us one night for happy hour. They taste a bit like spiny lobster. Pretty good! And they look really neat on the rocks too. Kind of prehistoric in a way.

We moved to the northern end of Bahia Magdalena to see if we wanted to do a gray whale tour there. Because there are 3 different lagoons where you can do this and we had done Guerera Negro last season, we thought we’d check out this one. Whereas last year we camped along the shore and whales were spouting and spy hopping within view, this wasn’t anything like that and we decided to hold out for San Ignacio Lagoon instead.

The five of us moved along up the coast to another Pacific beach site far away from anything up on the cliffs. Just us. We still can’t get over how you can get that here so frequently. A long peninsula with relatively few people and a whole lot of open space. And there is so much variation to the coastline. The weather seems clearer and prettier on the Pacific side than we recall from last season. Perhaps it is the month we’re passing through. We like the perspective we can get from inside the truck since it’s a bit higher than the ground by about 6 feet. Easier for spotting wildlife too. You wouldn’t think it would make such a differce but it does. The only people we saw over 3 days were fishermen in the distance. I think there is a whole other world that they live in that we can’t understand but we see a lot of small shark heads on the beach where they clean their catch that we find disturbing. I don’t know where that meat goes but we get the feeling that the sharks can’t take this amount of harvesting. Regardless, we enjoyed the beach & solitude and tried not to think on it too much.

The trails are lined with white stones- cute!

We just spent several days inland in the mountains at a grouping of oasis villages which could easily be in Morocco or the mountains of Honduras. La Purisima and San Isidro are spots we visited last season with Ivan and wanted to bring Sandie & Karsten to since we liked them so much and they’re so different to other parts. Plus, there’s good hiking here. The villages are sleepy, full of white stone lined hiking trails, a small river running through, frogs at night, mature orchards, livestock, date palms, friendly people, beautiful mountain vistas, plenty of dust & roosters. We met a couple from Oregon who moved here last August into a fixer upper. They seem really happy with the area, the isolation of it and all the things they can get locally like wine, tortillas, cheese, meat, fruit, etc. I really like the feel of this place too and everywhere you look there is a beautiful mountain in the distance.

There are few people we know who like to hike as long and far as we do.

There’s virtually no tourism. Occasionally, a couple of motorcycles race through on an offroad adventure but rarely does anyone stop. But if you like to hike or bike, this is a good place to stop. Founded by missionaries over 300 years ago, the aqueduct they built still remains and brings water to the fields for livestock and gardens. The cliffs are filled with fossilized sand dollars, auger and scallop shells. At one point, Pemex oil company dug test wells but we never figured out if it ever amounted to anything. For some reason there are numerous abandoned buildings in town as if from a previous boom time many years ago. So we hiked all the trails one day with Sandie & Karsten and then Jon & I biked 10 miles out a pretty but desolate road one morning that heads over the mountains to yet another oasis town. It was too far to make it to that town before the sun turned us to a crisp so we turned around and sat down under a tree for a few minutes to eat a bar. A local came walking up the road with his friendly dogs and came over to say hi. As I was processing the familiar pair of binoculars hanging on his shoulder, Jon said, we met this guy last year when we were here. Right! We met Jose’ out on a hiking trail last season with Ivan. We had a nice chat, fumbling for spanish words but still, understanding each other. He was walking out to his little ranch to find his goats and his turn was where we were sitting. It felt like the middle of nowhere. What were the chances of that? He says there’s a puma that lives in the area and he’s seen in 3 times. He remembered us too. We spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out the history of the area and why it still exists considering there are so few people, no real obvious industry, certainly no tourism but still, nice walking trails…..

On our last night there, we had dinner at the one house in the area that serves food. We came ready to eat but had to put our order in and then come back an hour later to eat it. Luckily we were parked close by so we could go back home while we waited! Then we sat on their porch and ate our burritos with a puppy nuzzling our feet. Authentic. It felt good to go out.

Rough but very scenic road out of La Purisima

The road eastward out of Purisima is a 38 mile rough one that is once again, out in the sticks. You can go back around the way we came in on pavement but who wants to do that when we have the right rigs to carry us over the rocks? It seemed a little rougher than we remembered it being last year and while we didn’t meet anyone stranded this time, we did have to weave around a truck that died in the road some months back. You really don’t want that to happen to you. It would make our breakdown in Death Valley look easy. The road has a little bit of every kind of desert scenery from hillsides full of old cactus souls to mountain vistas leading off of cliff edges where you don’t want to look down. We pulled off the road just before sunset with only a few miles left till pavement. Even with all the bumps, it was still fun to travel this road and see the remoteness of it.

We’re headed to the town of Loreto for some civilization. We can finally get some internet to make this blog post and catch up on the news of the world. Going back and forth between cililization and remoteness, I would say that’s the best of both worlds.

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