Our last couple of weeks in Baja were no less spectacular than the rest of the season. It makes it easy to pull together what stands out. For us, one major thing is the people we traveled with of course. Heading down here with friends Mark & Anne and then continuing on with Ivan, Sandie & Karsten made things fun and funny. Not everyone would want to hang out with us for long periods of time so we feel really fortunate to have such great friends who are willing to do so!
A couple of weeks ago, we met up with Sandie & Karsten again in the square of San Ignacio and planned for an afternoon coffee at a local shop that had just reopened after being closed these past 2 seasons for covid. Well, it wasn’t open that afternoon even though it said it was. So we had no choice but to head over to our favorite margarita shop instead. It was a fun night.
One of our other favorite parts of Baja is the friendliness of the people. They often get to a smile before we can and we feel welcome. We’re not great with spanish but we can convey a lot just with the words we have and gesture. Plus we have Ivan with us! We headed up to the Sierra de San Francisco mountains to do some hiking and see the cave paintings in the canyon. Recognized and protected by UNESCO, these rock art sites have been dated up to 100BC and you need to hire a guide to see them. Being the hiking addicts that we all are, we were most interested in the hike itself, but also the paintings and preferred to go down & back in the same day rather than camp overnight for 2 nights like they suggested. And we definitely didn’t want to ride a mule. So the staff kindly found us a guide who would hike in & out in a day, we just had to pay him for 2 days since he would be working (rather walking) double what he would have. No problem! Prices are generally reasonable in Baja which leaves more room to spread your money around to more people.
The hike was beautiful, like no other part of Baja we’d seen. And our guide Xavier was great too. He first started guiding us on a mule and looked pretty serious, but then after a while he tied his mule, Galileo, up and removed the saddle leaving him to graze the day away while we continued together on foot. His shoes were handmade of leather with old car tire tread for the sole. In his jeans, spiffy button down shirt and white cowboy hat, he looked so iconic to me in that beautiful backdrop. While we worried at first that a guide would slow us down, he proceeded to out-hike us all and his face softened as the day went on and he got to know us. Along the way, he told Ivan about his day to day life up in those mountains, the life of a guide and a cheese maker. He shares a goat ranch with his brother and both families work it. Before he started hiking with us, it had taken him 3 hours that morning to ride his mule from his ranch to the trailhead. He returned the next day to sell us some of his homemade cheese (which was delicious). Our time with Xavier left us all thinking about how different a life can be. We look for and often find some commonality even though we’re worlds apart. Those interactions are the ones that stick with us long after we’ve left the scenery behind.
We were allowed to camp right near the trailhead in a gorgeous spot up in the mountains in between small goat ranches. The air was clear & dry and the scenery drove us nuts. In the morning, the ranchers would go out on foot or horseback to herd the goats toward the barn and then in the afternoons back into the hillsides to graze them again. One morning, we met this man carrying the baby goats born in the night so they wouldn’t have to walk that far. After the hike down into the canyon, we stayed a couple more days and hiked on our own on goat paths and enjoyed the solitude. Jon & I both had a hard time leaving that area.
But we were headed down to Ojo de Liebre to visit the gray whales. While our favorite way to see whales is to swim with them, the next best thing is to be in a small boat and be able to lean out and pat them! We’ve really enjoyed all the different wildlife down here and the many ways you can get out and see it. You drive down to the lagoon, stay in a beautiful waterfront campsite for $5 a night listening to coyotes yipping and then hop in a small boat and a guide takes you out to hang with the whales for a couple of hours. They put the boat near a group of whales and often they will come swimming right over to visit. Since the babies are born in the lagoon (they are therefore Mexican!) they are curious and friendly. Both the moms and babies like to bump the boat, pick their heads up and snort spray all over you and one even pushed a bunch of water through it’s baleen that came out in streams which was really neat. It is a moving experience and we chose a calm, clear morning to do it. We took a walk alongside the lagoon afterward. All of the osprey are in residence now fixing up their nests and getting ready to multiply. Sweet!
We moved a few miles north to some sand dunes for the night. There are so many varied landscapes and the myriad of places to camp is amazing. Even when we were up in the mountains we could see the Sea of Cortez in the distance and now we were on the Pacific side. It’s easy to move between the two. Jon aired up our tires as we planned to start making highway miles in earnest. Heading further up the peninsula on Mex 1, the roadside was frequently covered in a carpet of wildflowers. Then we stopped later for a coffee break and a desert walk through big cactus. Love that variety.
We stropped for the night on a quiet beach and took a quick walk to catch the last of the sun’s rays. A couple from Montana, JD & Carolyn, invited us up to their rooftop deck for ceviche. We accepted and had a nice chat over an extremely colorful sunset. Turns out he’d done the entire Pan Am road from Alaska to the tip of S America on a motorbike so we had some interesting conversation. I especially love the skies in Baja, the cloud formations and the subsequent sunsets. They are some of the best I’ve ever seen.
We all collided again at a lonely beach just south of San Felipe where we met Sandie & Karsten for the first time last February. It seemed fitting to revisit that spot. Has it really been a year?! But new moon tides kept us from reaching the original beachside campspot and the winds were so fierce during our stay that it didn’t have the same feeling. When we ran that morning, our truck would disappear in waves of flying sand that made it hard to keep our eyes open. So we moved to a campground behind a big hill in San Felipe to get out of the worst of the wind. San Felipe is not really our kind of place but it is a good transition I guess because at that point, you’ve left the best of Baja behind. If that was all it was then it wouldn’t be a favorite. We met up with Fabian again there and I thought about how if everything goes as planned, we will all be in Alaska this summer! We’re all travelers and will get there our own way but we will meet up again enroute I’m sure. There’s a line from a series that we’ve been watching that says something like “we’re not chasing the pot of gold, just the rainbow”. That’s us for sure. And, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a few rainbows in Alaska anyway!
We left San Felipe early Sunday morning with Ivan to avoid long lines at the Mexicali border. It took 2 hours once we arrived and while Ivan breezed on through, we were held longer. At one point we had a half a dozen officers hanging out around our truck oohing and ahhing but not doing much of any necessary inspection of it. And we were made to sit in a holding area watching this from a distance. It made us want to turn back around! But once through the gates we headed straight to Anza-Borrego park to the desert away from all of that. We picked up 20 avocados from a roadside stand and then did a quick grocery stop. Wow, sticker shock!
We appreciate the US for it is it’s large, open public lands. We did a hike through a slot canyon and have started attacking the list of projects that we need to do before a long drive to Alaska. We’ll take it slow for now waiting for the snow to melt a little more before continuing north. The new roof hatches are on their way from the Netherlands and we’re excited to get those installed too.
So thanks Baja for another great batch of memories. We hope to visit you again someday in the future!!
2 Replies to “What Stands Out”
Wow, wow, wow. Nothing else explains it!
Hello Guys!!! We saw your TankRV in Baja specifically at the beautiful Baja Seasons Resorts. And wow your tank RV is bad ass. Then weeks later we saw your TankRV at Harbor Freights in Las Vegas. I’m sooo impressed at what you guys did with your TankRV. I tell you if we have a WWIII, that is the RV to be in. At first, I thought this RV was a model i would like to purchase and I started researching so I can see pricing. Lol.. you guys are living your life. Congrats!! We visit Baja pretty frequently and reside in Vegas. Good luck in Alaska!!