Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer Trip to Baja 2007

My wife, Tracy, and I decided to make the most of our summer and head to Baja for 16 days. We had a very flexible agenda and schedule with only a few areas that we needed to visit. First, we were going to visit our friends Juan and Shari in Bahia Asuncion. Second, we planned on visiting our friends Mark and Lidia Rockwell at Elias Calles, just south of Todos Santos. After that, it didn't really matter. Being that our trip was in the middle of July, though, with the heat and humidity setting in along the Sea of Cortez, most of our trip would likely occur on the Pacific.

The week prior to our trip, I had completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene so I was in the mood to relax a bit. I envisioned camping along empty beaches, doing some reading and napping, and then enjoying an afternoon dip in the ocean. If I got some energy I might pick up my fishing pole and practice some casts. Otherwise, the goal was to recover, relax, and enjoy time with my wife.

The Journey Begins: Day One
We left San Diego on June 30, 2007, about 4:30am. In the past, I'd often wake up at 1:00am or so and rustle up my wife as I couldn't sleep. But not this time. In fact, I had a hard time getting my body out of bed. But after a quick shower, my mind was now focused on getting to Baja and enjoying a cold cerveza. We finished loading up the ice chest and were on the 805 headed for International Border at San Ysidro.

We crossed the border in the far right-hand lane and parked the truck. We needed to get new FM-T permits. We walked to the Immigration office adjacent to the parking lot and the lights were off. As such, we headed for the main office located behind the row of offices and towards the US (right). Once there, the immigration officer handed us our permits which we filled out. After paying the fees (about $20 USD each) at the 24 hour bank located at the row of offices mentioned earlier, we returned the forms to the officer. He stamped them and wished us a pleasant trip. We were on the road headed to Playas de Tijuana at approximately 5:30am.

The drive down to Ensenada was uneventful and gave my wife, Tracy, a chance to sleep a bit more. The toll road was in good shape and we arrived in Ensenada about 7:00am. We stopped at a bank and withdrew enough pesos to cover us until we arrived in Todos Santos the following week. We had most of our food and beer with us and would primarily just need money for gasoline and for a few meals along the way.

The Adjustment
As we leave Ensenada the topic of where we're headed begins....."maybe we stop by and visit Pancho at Playa San Rafael...no maybe we'll head out to Laguna Manuela on the Pacific for the night...heck, maybe we'll just head to Asuncion......" We don't come to a consensus and the miles roll past.

As the turn-off for Bahia de Los Angeles approaches, I asked, "So do you want to head out to see Pancho?" Tracy pauses and replies"It's totally up to you." "To me, " I utter to myself.....and respond "but it's our vacation. I need some help." Time is running out and we can't come to a verdict so we continue on south on Hwy 1.

As the miles unwind I find our attitudes adjusting. We are slowing down, beginning to think in Spanish, and adjust our mannerisms. We've both been to Baja enough times to let go and soak up the culture, emotions, and lifestyle changes that are about to come. Onwards we go.

As we approach Jesus y Maria, north of state border, we decided to pull over and visit Carmelita (the famous tamale lady) and pick up some tamales "para llevar." Carmelita is not working today so it's a quick stop. (We did catch up with her on our return visit. She says her sons work for the most part now but she misses the tourists. Carmelita has the energy of five people and a million dollar smile. If she lived in the States, she really would be famous.)

We decide to check-out Laguna Manuela as it's getting a bit late in the day. We head towards the Pacific for about 5 miles until we reach the bay. I had camped out here in 1997 and it was a good stop-over. Unfortunately, though, things have changed a bit since then. In addition to a permanent fishing village there are piles and piles of shark carcass. The smell is unwelcoming and we decide to continue on our way. We set our sites on Bahia Asuncion.

Bahia Asuncion
The drive to Asuncion was uneventful and for the most part easy. The road from Vizcaino is paved all the way to the Tortugas fork. But, the road is pretty rough with some huge pot holes beginning at the salt ponds. From the fork, the road is currently being paved. I'd guess the road is paved about 10 miles or so. In all, it's about 70 miles from Vizcaino to Bahia Asuncion.

As we pull into the town, I decide to show our friends' beach house to Tracy. As luck would have it, Shari was at the house with some renters. Shari is surprised with our visit and welcomes us back to her place out on the point. We share some beers and stories with her and Juan before Tracy and I decide to call it a day. We pack up and head out to San Roque for the night.

After taking the wrong road to San Roque and having to four-wheel up a soft sand dune in the dark, we finally arrive at our destination. We pop open the "Toyota Home," crawl into bed, and admire the stars and drift to sleep.

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