Baja 2016

Jan. 31, 2016

When we woke at our usual time of 4;30, there were still swells coming from the south. Our most current weather forecast had called for building westerlies so with that in mind we wanted to get around this next point as quickly as possible. Our boats are now filled with 12 days worth of water and we can tell that our boats have more weight. Not having water stress means carrying lots of water which is fine with us. Between cooking and drinking we are averaging about 1 to 1and 1/2 gallon per day. As we headed up toward the point, and it became lighter we noticed a huge fog bank had formed. It was not moving which to us was a good omen that the westerlies were not moving it to the East. Our tent fly and gear that we had left out last night was completely soaked. We are wondering that our camp probably  had been passed over by the fog during the night. We had placed ourselves on the map a little further south than we really were so we did not reach the point as soon as anticipated. With the fog being so thick, it also made for difficult map reading. In all our years in Baja this was a first paddling in thick fog. Fortunately we seemed to be paddling around the point at a good time as the wind was still pushing us and the tide must be close to slack. Finally we passed Animas slot which is located at the very tip of the point. Had the wind picked up we would have camped here, but the conditions were such that moving on was indicated. Punta Animas which this point is called is made up of many cliffs with colorful rock patterns. Knowing that we plan to reverse our course once we get to Bahia de Los Angles makes us hopeful that we will see this area with no fog. Our next bay was Bahia de Animas. Once again we had the condition to move across it rather than hug the shore. The winds were still from the south and the seas had some swells, but no white caps yet.  Due to the swells coming from the South, the beach we wanted to land on had a surf landing that had dumping waves. Not the most fun to land, but doable. Our destination keeps changing as the conditions are still allowing us to keep moving. The tide is flooding and with the wind behind us we are making good time. AS we rounded yet again another point this time we see the light house that is located in front of Bahia De Los Angles. This is where we will resupply with food and water and then retrace our route back to where we started. Don thought that perhaps we should continue on, but I was ready to find camp. It would have been a 2 or 3 hour paddle to the town and we would have not been able to get there before dark. We headed into Don Juan Harbor. Near the top of the bay was a cobblestone beach that would work for our camp. As we unpacked our gear, the westerlies started blowing which made us glad that we had not gone toward town.  We also realized that had we had gone further into the bay we would have had more protection from this direction of wind. Gotta make do, so had pizza and made our camp storm proof. Realizing that our long paddle days when we are focused about moving lacks photos. 

Jan. 30, 2016

Alberto told us that he would be up at 7:00 and that we could get our water then. Great we have a reason to stay in our sleeping bags. It was quite a leisurely morning, with more conversation with Alberto and the most up to date weather report. It was 9:30 before we loaded our boats and headed North.  The seas were dead calm. In fact this is the first time that we have paddled in water this calm since we left on this journey. As we rounded yet another point, a rock was filled with young sea lions. Their coats were a deep rich brown, not having been bleached in the sun. No adults were around so we were assuming that they had been left to start a life of independence. They were curious, but wanted to keep a certain distance. We now have two of the more exposed points with current completed. The next stretch takes as past Bahia San Rafael, the largest bay on this section of coast. Normally we would be hugging the shore, but a mellow breeze has come up from the south and we decided that with the wind to our backs we could do more of a direct crossing. Four hours later we are across and ready for a break. The south wind has created waves all along the beaches. Good waves for landing, but surf nevertheless. Wanting to stretch our legs we find a good landing site and surf in. Another point is on the travel plan for tomorrow, This point has the most cliffs for extended distances. Our plan is to continue to travel as close to it as possible tonight and then try to round it at first light and when the tide is at slack. We paddled to dusk and found a cobblestone beach to camp on. Considering we had gotten a late start we still paddled over 25 miles. The weather report calls for strong westerlies tomorrow by afternoon.. Hope they are not accurate.

Jan. 29, 2016

The plan was to get up at 4:15 and be on the water shortly after. The coyotes had a different agenda. They began howling at 3 and at 3:15, we were convinced that the wind had died and the moon was giving us enough light to proceed forward. We were packed and starting to paddle by 4:30 and by the time first light appeared we were well around the point and had several hours of paddling done. A special treat was the bioluminescence that gave us light shows as our boat moved thru the water. As usual the scenery is outstanding and the feeling of isolation along the coast is apparent. It has been several days since we have seen any fishing boats. That will change today as we will be going past two small settlements. We take a break at a sandy beach before the town of El Barill. Today we do not plan to stop but hopefully will stop on our return. An old mission that is no longer used stands near the shoreline. This is a town of about 75 people who make a living by fishing. Beyond the town are several large houses. One looks like it could be a hotel resort. We met Alberto later in our paddle and he told us more about the town of El Barill and the nice houses that we passed by. Fishing has become difficult here as the government has enforced seasons which means they are not free to fish year around. It is a long drive over very rough roads to the nearest larger town. The houses are owned by foreigners. The large white one that we saw and thought was a resort was actually owned by an American who was president of a company called Rockwell. His children now own the property. According to Alberto the family hires the locals and has put money back into the town.  The white house is called La Manse, Spanish for mansion, a fitting title.  We took a short break on a pristine white sandy beach. Too early to camp but it would have been ideal. The seas were mostly calm until we took a more easterly direction. Now we were  learning what they call the westerlies in this area. We had to keep our focus and paddle directly into the wind. Our speed slowed way down. We passed another small settlement that had sustained a lot of damage from the fall hurricane. Looks like some of the houses were just abandoned. Beyond the houses was a place we could camp before going around the next point.  Unloaded the boats,put up the tarp and made some quesadillas. Crazy wind had decided to die down and the tide was coming in. One could not ask for better conditions to go around the point. We had been on the water since 4:30 this morning, but the weather was giving us a green light and we were going to take it. Hauled the gear back to the boats and once again loaded them up. This point was notorious for having rip currents so we proceeded cautiously. A westerly wind was blowing, but we were able to make progress and were relieved when we saw the point we needed to round. As we rounded the point a large eddy was formed by the currents and at least 4 maybe 5 fin back whales were aggressively feeding.  We stopped not sure of how to proceed as they were taking up a large part of the area, by their feeding behavior.  Several of them would quickly swim in a circle and then lie on their sides with their huge mouths open. We moved as close to the shore and still paddle. The whales could have cared less that we were there. Watching them, we lost time and marveled at their size and the frequency of their surfacing. Finally as if on signal they departed and we headed to shore. When we arrived to the shore all the places  looked vacant. This was where we needed to fill our water. No one was in the houses by the beach, and the bathrooms were locked. There was however some fresh ATV tracks and we followed them, to another house with signs of activity. This is where we met Alberto. Alberto has lived here for over 30 years and has quite a nice development. He had gone to the states to learn English and spoke it quite well. He was married to an American women who had died. They had two children that were raised here, but now live in the states, having dual citizenship. It was quite informative talking to him as he told us about the abandoned ranch that we had hiked to and about the fishing village we had passed. He also told us about dealing with the Mexican government. His son works for Google and had Alberto set up with satellite internet. For 5 dollars we were able to down load our email and get a current forecast. He and his son had built a rock oven outside and ahd cooked their thankgiving turkey  in it.  We were also able to purchase purified water for about 1.00 a gallon. Camping with hot showers was 10.00 a person. This was quite the oasis and will look forward to stopping here and learning more when we return

Jan. 28, 2016

The winds calmed during the night and the morning weather check was a go. We are now back into the Pacific Time Zone so we were on the water by 5:45. Heading to a steep and long point called Cabo San Miguel. Will want decent conditions to go around it. About a mile before the point we pulled into a large sandy beach to take a break. We had been paddling for about 3 hours and as we took our break, the wind increased and white caps formed. Glad we had made it this far and felt good about camping here. A short day, but put us in good position to make it around this next  point. Thought we would take a hike to see if we could get a feel for the coastline. Got to a high point, but in order to see much of the coastline to the North, we would have to do a longer hike, which was something we did not want to do. So back to camp and put up a tarp for shade.  Donna made rolls for the next travel day. Baking rolls for traveling is getting to be routine. With all our dried spreads they are quite filling.  To the South is the beautiful  Tres Virgines. We feel blessed to be surrounded by such beauty. A coyote walks by and pays no attention to us. They are a beautiful animal. Must be quite a few of them in this area because the beach is full of tracks.We put a stick at the tide line to see if we can determine what the tide is doing.. We have charts, but none for exactly this area. Tomorrow we will have some morning moonlight and plan to be on the water if it is a go before first light. We set our alarm for 4:15. Even with getting up that early we are still getting a solid 8 hours of sleep.

Jan. 27. 2016

The wind blew thru out the night and kept the tent walls flapping. it was an easy decision to spend another day here, Perhaps we could make several hours up the coast, but do not have the need to do that yet.  We are in a well protected location and there are lots of things to do here. I baked rolls and then did some reading on the the history of Baja. I always find that so interesting especially when we did some exploration yesterday. Some warblers were hanging around the kitchen as well as a rock wren. There was a coyote doing its rounds this morning. Found another osprey using a cactus for its nest and a great blue heron perched on a cactus. Someday I will make a photo collection of birds on cactus. Wind gusts were around 25 knots today.  We are getting into an area that has some extreme tidal currents so will be needing to do more planning when we round points.  Yuri, our friend has been sending us weather updates on our satellite phone. Todays wind was strong, just as we experienced. Tomorrow is predicted to be a little less. Guess we will be doing our standard early morning weather check. 

Jan. 26, 2016

This morning we woke up to the alarm. When that happens we know we are tired. We have been putting in some long paddling days recently. There is a strong west wind blowing which means we could probably go for several hours before needing to get off the water, but there is a hike nearby  and decided that only moving for a couple of hours is probably not worth it today. Back into the sleeping bags we go and the next thing we know it is 8:00. This time when we look out there is a lot of white water and the wind has turned to the North. It is a good day to stay on the land. Donna takes a walk down the beach and returns with several items to enhance the kitchen. We now have a crate that we can put our stove on which helps in sand management. Breakfast is our precooked potatoes with eggs. A coyote lets us know that it is in the area and so warned we put water and food in the kayaks before taking off for our hike. Taking off around 10:30 we are assuming by looking at the map we should be back in 3 hours.Lunch is packed, water bottles filled and sun protected clothing put on. We find the abandoned road that is on the map. This area was used during the Jesuits time and also in the early 1900's by a sugar cane ranch.  The road is mostly easy to follow and we assume that it will take us near the ruins. One guide book that we have calls it a mission, but later find out that is an abandoned ranch. After several hours and no obvious ranch we decided to find some shade and have lunch. Out comes humus, cheese, jicama and tortillas. Oh so good. We noticed some single tracks, most likely made by a motorcycle, but when it continues to go up the arroyo we know that is not what we want to follow. In order to get a better view we climb up a hill and Don spots some rock wall fences and irrigation canals. It is quite a complex system. And then in the midst of the wall fences we see the structure that we have been looking for. On the way to the ruins, we observe a stick that has been placed on a small rock wall. As we get closer we notice that bees are coming out of a hole nearby. On further observation we see it is a full on bee hive with honey comb. They do not seem to mind Don getting closer. I on the other hand give it some distance. Alas I am in the fly zone and a bee lets me know it. My clothes mostly protect so the sting is more superficial. We head down a steep walled arroyo and then up the other side until we finally arrive to our destination. It is a walk back in time as we marvel at the rock work that surrounds the building and goes for a long distance up the surrounding hills The building itself is also quite interesting. Someone took some time in designing this structure.  Hopefully we can find someone to answer our questions. Six hours later we are finally heading back. It was a good hike! We identified the ash throated flycatcher and even saw our first mushroom in Baja. Tonight we drank some nettle tea made from nettles on the ford camp in Alaska. Good memories of sitting in our kitchen with friends drinking tea. The wind is still blowing so currently it seems that we may be here for another day. 

Jan. 25, 2016

The moon was still giving us light when we awoke and prepared for our departure. A little swell was hitting the shore, but the seas were relatively calm beyond that. The beach was steep so I was able to do a seal launch by just sliding into the water. As we were departing, we heard the coyote giving us a yip. Perhaps it was saying adios. Sightings today included a flock of snow egrets, flying by with their yellow feet stretched out. There were more turtles and an osprey sitting on a very old nest on top of a cardon cactus. A very large whale presented us with a spy hop and then a rocky island was filled with cormorants and sea lions. The sea lions preformed by jumping in and out of the water. It was if they were putting on a show or more likely just having fun on this beautiful day.  The seas remained calm till early afternoon.  We were nearing Punta Corrales so decided to look for a campsite before rounding the point. When we found one that would work, we headed in and made a cozy camp. By now the wind was blowing around 15 knots and after having put in a long day yesterday, we were glad to stop. Donna washed the salt out of her clothes. It is not long lasting but will feel good tomorrow. Today we paddled about 20 miles. This time of year, it seems like it is always good to move when you can, According to the weather forecast, the wind will pick up tonight. A morning check will determine if we stay or go.

Jan. 24, 2016

The full moon rose last night and the wind was quiet. Knowing that we want to make at least 23 miles today we are ready to go at first light. We know that this is one of the crux moves on this route. This is where the Tres Virgines came to the coast. Few pull outs  and a lot of cliff bands will be our view today. So when the morning starts out flat calm, we smile knowing that we can enjoy the views. Later in the day a gentle breeze came out of the south, just what we needed. This day is noted as outstanding beauty! Wildlife today included sea turtles, sea lions, lots of boobies and grebes. The sea held true to one of its original names, The Vermillion Sea. The sea had many shades of red today. Most likely bioluminescent made from a small animal called a dinoflagelit.  Sometimes it felt like we were paddling thru a lava lamp. We made it around the cliffs and finally ended our day when we had paddled 35 miles. Tired, but excited about seeing this stretch in optimal conditions. The first coyote of our trip yipped at us while we were eating. We gave it a warning to not bother us which it seemed to obey. We have been told to be aware of coyotes and we put all our water and food in our boats each night. As evening approached we were joined on the beach by 12 cows. They did not have any interest in us, just continued down the beach and then up and over a hill. There are ranches in the mountains, so we are assuming that these cows belong to them.  While we were eating our dinner the moon rose and gave us a spectacular show for an amazing day.

Jan. 23, 2016

It was interesting as usual to meet the folks that cross our paths. The folks on the 49 foot sailboat that invited us over for hot drinks last night have been traveling on their sailboat for the last 6 years. They are from Australia and bought their sailboat in Turkey. Not only do they stop at ports to explore, but will often do land travels to explore all the continents. They were on their way to the French Polynesians and then headed to New Zealand to avoid the hurricane season. Another 22 foot sailboat was owned by a couple from Oregon who had sold their home and were planning to be able to travel the world by trailering their boat or shipping it across the ocean. They were debating a bit if they might want a larger boat. They said that they thought they were roughing it until we pulled in.  Our morning in Santa Rosalie, included hot showers, water, food buying and drying out some of our gear. Morning wildlife sights on the dock included watching an osprey eating a fish and seeing a night heron in a rowboat. By 11:30 we were packed and ready to head north. First we paddled past the town and then an active gypsum mine. A large boat was being filled with the gypsum in front of the mine. A lot of unhealthy dust i am sure was in the air. We were glad that we were moving away from this area. About 8 miles from town we found a nice campsite that had unfortunately bees and flies. Glad to see them depart after the sun set. We studied our maps as the next stretch does not have many pull outs. The next stretch of paddling is one of the most remote sections on the Sea of Cortez. We precooked our breakfast for the morning and discovered that we had Telcel coverage. We will not have it soon so used our data talking to Jeff. We got an updated weather forecast which looks good for tomorrow, but a big wind storm may hit Monday night.

Jan. 22, 2016

We awoke early to do a weather check. The wind had died some and the waves hitting the shore line was not as fierce. It was still too dark to observe the sea state so our decision was to go back and eat breakfast and assess the scene afterwards. As it became lighter, the conditions had improved so we decided to leave our little paradise. There was still a swell running but the wind had not increased. We paddled past the little town of San Bruno and opted not to get water. We felt good about having enough fresh water to get to Santa Rosalie. We even thought that if the conditions stayed the same we could even get to Santa Rosalie today. Little did we know what the day was going to look like. As we approached Bahia San Carlos the wind started to develop. We had passed several spots to camp, but also had been told about some that were a little further up the coast. Some poinitis(let us see what is around the next point) set in and on we paddled. Perhaps around the next point we would see that ideal spot.  The waves now were strong and were breaking. Our kayaks easily disappeared from each other. We were glad that we were heading into the waves so we could see them clearly. Much better than a following sea. Finally we saw a place that looked feasible. From our perspective it was a cobblestone beach. I decided to do a surf landing in my plastic boat  and check it out. I made it in OK, but alas discovered at this tide level right below the cobble beach were large rocks. It would not be a good landing for Don in his fiberglass boat. Now I was challenged to get my boat out thru the breakers. A large wave hit my boat and filled the cockpit up.  We decided that I would swim/ push the boat out to Don who would tow it to deeper water past the breakers. Once that occurred I swam out and got back into my very full of water boat. We both worked at keeping our boats pointing into the waves and pumping out the water. Glad that we were a team!. Landing did not hold many options until the harbor at Santa Rosalie. We realized that we were now committed to making it to the harbor. Up to the crest and down to the trough, slow and in control was our motto. We inched our way forward making progress, but also becoming tired. We really had not eaten much since breakfast, but could not stop to grab any food. Finally we saw the town of Santa Rosalie. We had to use a ferry angle to get across to the harbor. Slowly we proceeded and felt quite the relief when we were able to paddle into the harbor. We paddled up to the dock and quickly ate our lunch for the day.  We were quite wet and getting out of the boats and into dry clothes was a priority. We were greeted by several of the sailboat sailors who gave us the lowdown on the harbor facilities.  One of the sailors said that they had gotten a reading of 30 knots. The 5 sailboats that were docked had all opted to stay put and were a bit surprised when we paddled into the dock.  We as well thought it quite windy and were relieved to be there. Our boats handled well and it was a good experience to know how they handle in those kind of conditions. After unloading our boats on the dock, we were invited over to one of the boats for hot drinks and conversation. Laid our sleeping bags on the dock and quickly went to sleep. The town seemed quiet for a Saturday night, but I am sure we were too tired to notice. Not many pictures today. Just two, starting out and paddling into the harbor. Perhaps someday we will get a go pro and be able to get some action shots.

Jan. 21, 2016

The moon leaves the sky and stars come out in full brightness. Star gazing is a prime activity as long as you can keep your eyes open. We enjoy checking out some of our favorite constellations. The wind seemed to die during the night, one could still hear the waves hitting the shore, but not with as much force. Back to a yellow decision, proceed with caution.  We packed up some and had breakfast and then did another walk to the beach to do another wind check.. A walk to a higher point gave us reading of 20 knots. This time the decision was easy to make. We are staying here. Since we were up, it made sense to check out the birding potential. We did not have to go far, the beach near our tent had a little flock of semipalmated plovers and snowy plovers. As if on cue they all departed and were replaced by a larger plover which we narrowed down to two possibilities. Winter plumage makes bird identification more difficult. As the larger plovers moved down the beach a group of sanderlings took over. It was amusing to watch the sanderlings and plovers interact. It was a great way to start the morning.As long as we are checking things out, a walk along the shore seemed appropriate. This did not last long as the tide was flooding in and the beach was not a place one could walk. We headed up to the dunes behind the beach. The area was quite dense with cacti and thorny bushes. When a sandy road appeared we were happy to take advantage of it. As we were walking along we heard numerous little chirp/clicks. As we stopped to see what was making the noise we saw numerous hummingbirds eating from the chuporosa or aptly named the hummingbird plant. They did not sit long enough for a photo, but were most likely Annas or Costas Hummingbirds. We often saw iridescent colors of red and purple. The road took us out to a point where we checked our wind gauge again and got steady readings in the high teens, low 20's. The sea had large waves with lots of white capping. Glad we were looking out and not paddling.  We have our mini  IPad with us and decide to see if we have any cell service. Sure enough the signal comes in and we have downloaded our emails, updated our weather report and did a quick chat with Ryan even sending a photo.  This new way of communicating continues to amaze me. The tide is ebbing so we were able to make our way back to camp via the shore, Don stopped and pointed down. There at his feet was a perfectly formed Nautilus. All I could say was wow!  Returning to camp we decided that eating was appropriate followed by a little tent time of reading and napping. Don could have maintained this activity longer, but Donna was ready to explore the lagoon. Hopping into our unloaded boats was a better than expected treat. The lagoon goes a good distance and plenty of birds were foraging for food, One sighting was a juvenile night heron and a white egret stalking lunch. Plenty of date palms were along the shore, most likely planted by the Jesuits, many years ago. Tonight we are having pizza covered in a tomatoe sauce that we had made and dried in Wyoming.  Another topping is dried elk meat given to us by our Wyoming friends.  Life is good,  The wind does not seem to be abating so we might get to spend another day here!

Jan. 20, 2016

It is so easy to get up at 4:30 when one is in bed by 8. Breakfast was made so efficient due to the fact that we had cooked the potatoes, onion and peppers the night before so all we had to do was reheat them and add the eggs. A strong wind from the west is blowing down the arroyo behind us. If it switches to the North we could be in for some challenging paddling. The next stretch of coastline once we round the next point is exposed to the North. For now though we are protected by Punta Chivato and can always camp before the point if need be. A sea lion surfaces right next to Donna's boat. She was as surprised as the sea lion. There is quite the development of homes in this area. On one hand they are quite nice, but we prefer the natural landscape and the coziness of our tent. A large raft of eared grebes is the main wildlife sighting today. Hard to believe that all winter they don't fly and come spring they will migrate to the Salton Sea or Great Salt Lake.  We take a break before rounding the point and hike across it to check out the wind. It has increased as has the waves, but we give it a yellow light and proceed with caution. We had been warned about currents around the point but at this time they are minimum, the swells have picked up though and our boats disappear from each other when we are in the trough. If the wind increases we will be looking for a place to land. We proceed checking the shoreline for potential landing spots. We notice a Mexican fishing boat in the distance and as we approach, their boat is beginning to rock with the waves. They take off, but at one point we can see them head to shore then take out away. It almost seems like they were showing us something. As we continued on, we needed to take a break and came to the area that they had pulled closer to shore, The waves had a funny break and then we noticed an opening to a lagoon. A narrow entrance opened into a protected area. That was all we needed to head in and take advantage of a surf free zone. This was truly an oasis! As we stretched our legs the wind continues to pick up and the decision is made to make camp for the night. Where we first landed a dirt road was nearby and soon a dune buggy appears. They are off to Punta Chivato for lunch. They tell us that a wind of 25 knots is forecasted for tomorrow. That is more than what we would want to paddle in on this exposed stretch. We always take weather reports as one factor, and that piece of information will be good to note when we do a weather check in the morning. We find an old crate that has washed up on shore and use it for a table.  I am liking this camp! The beach is calling us so a long walk is in order. A mosaic of shells form along the way. The waves and wind continue to pickup. Paddled about 10 miles today. At this time of year we will most likely paddle whenever we can and layover days or short paddling days will be determined by the wind.

Jan.19, 2016

Today we began our journey north to Bahia de Los Angles and the plan is to return back to El Coyote.  We have given ourselves a month, but in reality we can take longer. There are a lot of unknowns as we head out on what looks like a beautiful morning. We were up before our alarms went off at 4:30 and headed over to the staff palapa to make a hearty breakfast of pancakes. We loaded our kayaks in the dark and felt a sigh of relief when everything fit. We are both carrying a deck rear bag which may not be ideal, but it is reality for as much as we need to carry. As the sun rose, the sky was colored in many shades of red. We said a prayer and headed north toward Mulege. The seas remained mostly calm until we rounded the point to Mulege. It was fun seeing Mulege,last year we had paddled up the river to the town. This year we are  just passing by it.  The seas are mostly mellow this afternoon and we are thankful for that.  Outside of Mulege two shrimp boats were anchored. On one hand it was neat to see them and to think that the shrimp might have recovered enough to be harvested, but on the other side we knew the destruction it caused to the bottom of the sea as the nets are dragged over it. Many species of fish are brought to the surface and let to die so as not to attract sharks. Today we paddled 9 hours 30 minutes with only 2 shore breaks. We are camped south of Punta Chivato on a very long sandy beach. We do not particular care for sandy beaches as the sand gets everywhere and cooking can be challenging. Sometimes though it is the only option and we go with the flow. Usually if the beach is sandy it make for easier loading and unloading, a huge plus. No complaints tonight. We are happy to be here and excited about our journey. Distance traveled today was around 27 miles.

Jan. 16-18, 2016

The next three days are filled with getting ready for our month long expedition. After looking at various options of getting to our end destination, we decided to do an up and back which will be over 450 miles.  We have the time and we should be able to resupply with food and water along the way.  Our boats will be heavy as we are planning on taking 20 days worth of food and 12 days worth of water. There won't be many available spaces left in our kayaks. This is one of the many things I like about kayaking though.  With what we plan on taking we should be able to keep food stress and water stress to a minimum. A trip to Mulege is as always a trip down memory lane. Several of the store keepers have been here since the early 80's and remember Don and I. We are able to purchase all the last minute items, give a quick chat to the boys and then head back to finalize our packing. Many of our Mexican friends are here and we catch up on their lives. They give us some warnings that this year being El Nino has been quite windy and cold. Not exactly what we wanted to hear. The wind is dying down tonight which is a good omen for an early morning start. We move our gear close to the beach and set the alarm for 4:30am.

Jan. 15, 2016

Our pace is slow. No need to hurry as we are close to our destination. This has been one of the slowest and probably one of the more enjoyable trips that we have done heading South. In previous years when the road conditions were not great it would take us almost 2 full driving days starting at day light and ending at duck to get to EL Coyote. It just took us 10 days and it was quite enjoyable. We explored different towns and new places.  I am not sure learning about bakeries has helped us in the world of health, but it was a lot of fun. One of our favorite stops is a small store that sells dates and date baked goods right before one descends down a steep hill to the Sea of Cortez. A small package of dates along with stuffed date like cookies brought smiles to our faces. On to the booming town of Santa Rosalie, where a stop at the new Ley store had quite the assortment of products. No longer does one need to spend the entire day going to many stores to find a particular item. We checked out the harbor to see how easy it will be to stop here and get water and food when we are in our kayaks. There may be some challenges, but that is part of the journey.  It is a two hour drive to El Coyote arriving their before sunset. Our friend Yuri greets us and catches us up on the goings at the branch. We are able to stay in a small trailer which will be useful as we only want to be here for a couple of days before heading out  on a stretch of coastline which we have not paddled before.  The following photos are of the upgrades at the trailer park we camped at last night, ideas perhaps for our base camp in Alaska. Of course that would mean that we would have to be there longer than we have been there for the last five years.

Jan. 14. 2016

Oh what a beautiful morning!  (guess we said that yesterday) One can just assume that if you are in Baja the morning will be beautiful. Decided to do a longer run to see what was just over the next hill. Had a good view of the salt operation. Last year the salt flats were stopped from expanding. A good thing for the whales, not so good for the people of Guerrero Negro. The balance between employment opportunities and the environment is becoming a major issue. Once again we decided to venture out on the dock when we returned from our run.  Today there was a whole flock of American Avocets, a beautiful black and white bird with a turned up beak, eating sardines. Most of the birds that we identified yesterday were also foraging in the tidal zone. Time to leave our little spot of paradise. The wind has mostly been cooperative so being content here has been easy.  Another added bonus was before we left we were able to take hot showers.  As we left the side road we had to smile at the whale advertisement. It was doing double duty. It was advertising a beer company and also the gateway to the lagoon. We plan to return to the town of Guerrero Negro to buy groceries, wash our clothes, wash the car and a high priority is to visit the panadaria(bakery).  Driving into town we are able to check our email and are a bit surprised when one of us and perhaps both of us are offered a contract to work for NOLS. It fits into our schedule and we accept. This is the first time we have spent much time in this town and have more of an appreciation of it. We even went to the bakery twice. Good thing we did a long run this morning. On the way out of town we see another stilt and several western Grebes.  Our original destination for the night was San Ignacio, but having spent more time in Guerrero Negro we opt to stop at Vizcaino. Four years ago we had spent the night here with Ryan and friends when they were on their motorcycles. We hardly recognized the place as it has had some major upgrades. Parked next to us in an eight foot camper are two adults and two dogs.  This past year they sold everything and what they now own is with them except for a couple of boxes with some relatives. They are planning on heading to South America and perhaps back, but then again they may find a place that they want to put down roots.  So far this is the oldest couple we have meant who are doing such a trip.  Before we pulled into this town, we were a bit saddened to see both sides of the road lined with power poles. Again it is quite the improvement for the folks living here, but does distract from the beauty of the landscape. The once quiet towns that we drove thru in the early 80's are now a beehive of activity.

Jan. 13, 2016

Oh what a beautiful morning! This is why we have such fond memories of Baja. It is a bit cooler this morning as we watched the sun rise from the window of our car. With the clocks turned ahead we actually started our run by 7:15. Our friend the little dog Capitan runs with us for awhile.  In just over an hour we return to camp. Our neighbors are heading off this morning and thank us once again for encouraging them to go see the whales. Looks like it will be a good morning for bird watching. Pretty sure we identified a ruddy turnstone, Dunlin, a solitary sandpiper and a variation of a savannah sparrow. Always fun to try to figure out the birds we observe. Decided to walk in another direction to see if any new birds might appear and out of curiosity if we would have cell coverage. Not successful in either of those categories, but the view was beautiful. Returned to have bread with almond butter and bananas for lunch. It is getting to be one of our favorite lunches. The wind picked up so we took advantage of the car with intentions of reading, but soon had heavy eye lids. The warm car had created an exceptional environment for sleeping. When we awoke, we noticed that Karen from Montana, a women that we had met previously, had just arrived. We told her that she could share our site. Later that evening she entertained us with the many stories of life on the road with her dog Gracie. It also seemed that we filled a niche of being good listeners. The moon is at crescent tonight and the starts are lighting up the sky. 

Jan. 12, 2016

Silence is the rule in the morning when there is no wind.  It is only broken by the whales sounding in front of the camp. As the sun rose, we put on our running shoes and headed down a flat sandy road. Capitan, the local beach dog joins us for some of it. When he encounters another dog he bid us adios and heads off to play or most likely try to  get some food handouts. On our return to camp, we meet Cameron. After two futile attempts to make it to South America, they have decided to just do Baja. Their first attempt ended in Mexico where they were involved in a car wreck. The second attempt ended in Guatamala when the car they were driving could not make it up the steep mountain roads. Both he and his girlfriend lived in San Francisco and were burnt out on the lifestyle.  Yuppies with no kids walked the streets. They were going to try to do work on the internet to see if they could have a travel lifestyle. Returning back to our home for the next several days we talk with our new neighbors. They are a caravan of four campers and trailers. They kept asking if they should take the tour to see the whales here or perhaps visit the other locations where the Grey whale are located.  The day was calm and the whales plentiful so we gave them more pros of doing it here. They decided to do it and upon their return thanked us for the encouragement.  As we slow our pace and learn about other peoples stories we are intrigued. Four couples make up the group.  all have been friends for a long time.  There are a set of ex's married to new partners. One of the couples are their grown children. One women is in 4th stage ovarian cancer and is done with the traditional treatment. This trip is to celebrate their time together. Another person has Parkinson's. A lot of laughter comes from their camp as they are living for the moment. The last group of new neighbors we had met briefly in Bahia De Los Angles. When we met them they were on the way to San Quintin where they hoped to find a part to fix their car. Alas the part was not in stock, but the local mechanic down the street could make one. So for 15 dollars they were soon back on the road. They were traveling in a 1980 Road Runner and were planning to visit a place that one of the women had visited 12 years ago and always wanted to return. She thought it was one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen. We will be passing by it when we do our month long kayaking trip. We have decided not to do the whale tour as we did one last year, Seeing them from afar seems just fine with us. Lots of shore birds hang out in the tidal zone. We spend several hours looking at the marbled godwits, willets, yellow legs, whimbrels and a curlew. Watching their eating habits is entertaining. Since we are now in Baja Sur, we get to turn our watches ahead.  We might even make it to 9 before we go to bed.

Jan. 11, 2016

The day has come for us to leave our stone palapa and head to Ojo de Libre. First we do our run and appreciated the coolness of the morning.  The sun rise is spectacular and the dark clouds over the mountains brings some drama. It sure looks like we are going to be in for a storm, but nothing materializes except for a strong north wind bringing white caps across the bay. Antonio, the owner of Archleon stops by to see if we need anything. He talks to us for awhile and tells of the history of this place.  At one time it was a turtle research station, but the funding was cut. He also warns us of the currents and dangers of the area when the tides are at their peak. Notes are taken and cautions heeded. Shelia stops by to bid adios, but stays longer as she tells us more of her adventures and of her plan to write a book seen thru the eyes of her dog Luna. The next visitor who stops by as we are packing is Karen who introduces herself as I am from Montana. She also has a story to tell.  Due to extreme allergy sensitivities she has been living out of her car for the last several years. She had found a relatively cheap place to camp in the states, but this has been a very cold and wet winter. A dream of hers has been to see the whales so she packed up her dog, Gracie and is eventually headed to Ojo de Libre. She is looking forward to seeing whales and being dry and warm. Thomas and Tina come over to say good by. They are having some gear issues and want to head to the states quickly to resolve them. We gave them Ryan's name as a possible place to stay. They have at least one more year to go exploring before they need to head back to New Zealand. Now it is just Lisa and Noah on the beach. They are slowly packing, not really wanting to leave. Perhaps someday we will see her in concert if not we can always get a copy of her music. Errands in town before heading out is filling our water containers at the aqua purificado store and the bakery. Success at the water store but not so at the bakery,  no fresh goods till after noon. So off to Guerro Negro for more supplies, and check in with Ryan. Usually when one heads into this town, you are required to stop and have your car sprayed, which you pay to have done. Not looking forward to this activity so are pleasantly surprised when we are waved on. We try our mini ipad to see if Telcel operates here. The signal is strong and we are able to catch up on our emails. We visit the mercado and are able to fulfill our list. At the checkout we inquire about any panadarias. We are told that there are two. A man draws us a map and we are on a mission to find it. It was quite easy and we are impressed by the selection, price and cleanliness. I am sure it will be one of our stops when we visit this town again. On the way out of town we stop to admire the black legged stilt. Soon we are headed to the Lagoon. A paved road shortly turns to all sand and goes thru a huge sea salt production area.  This is one of the major employers of the town we just visited. Soon we are at the lagoon, Ojo de Libre.  The entrance fee is 5 dollars and a palapa with a light is 10. There was even a table in the palapa so we are camping with style. We hear and see the whales spouting. It has been a good day! 

Jan. 10, 2016

Another beautiful day in paradise. We ran down the road and then circled back to our camp via the beach.  Glenn was drinking coffee on his porch and invited us in for a tour. He is well set up with solar and water. He had gone fishing the day before and offered us some Cabrilla. Yesterday we headed north in our kayaks to check out some beaches today we decide to head south and check out camping possibilities for our kayaking trip in a couple weeks. It was fun to see the town from a different direction.  A big flock of red breasted mergansers took flight near our kayaks, A long billed curlew posed for a photo. A mellow day as we talk more with  the neighbors.  We  are all enjoying this place before we depart tomorrow.