Observations Made While Traveling the Baja in a VW Vanagon

Imagine……Shooting stars, the Milky Way and a blanket in the sand.

image

Have enough time……. the adventure is endless and stunningly unpredictable.
**********
Every bend, every left or right turn…..or any stop for a cool drink…..can produce an unforgettable experience.
**********
Learn to dawdle.
**********
Go to bed one night and realize you forgot to check the time all day.
**********
Learn to randomly say “Pullover!” only because “that tree has the most beautiful red flowers I’ve ever seen”.
**********
Smile at people every time you see one.
**********
Pretend you are twenty years old again……long enough for you to believe it.
**********

As you travel through magestic mountain ranges, play music you love and sing out loud.

**********
Realize that some of the best times you have had were made when your day took its own course and you let it interfere with your own plan.
**********
Bring pipe-dreams to life.
**********
Ride your bike in the rain.
**********
Take a nap and stay up late to watch shooting stars
**********
Always keep a flashlight handy
**********
Be afraid, be very afraid. Use this one cautiously and with good reason. Running out of wine is a good reason. Running out of toilet paper is another good one.
**********
Love dancing…learn to do the “stingray shuffle”.
**********
If you find sand in your sheets, be thankful.
**********
Flys and mosquitos can be mightier than the sword.
**********
If you really have to go home, consider yourself blessed if that home is a boat in a beautiful marina!

Varmints, Varmints Everywhere and Not a Bite to Eat

Imagine…….Feeling like teenagers again!

image

We now routinely fall asleep to coyotes’s howling in the distance. We track their prowling footsteps in the early morning sand and watch as they wander the desert floor behind the desolate beaches during the days.

An errant scorpion jetted across Tony’s hand as he opened the battery box.

We have mastered the genocide of at least ten thousand, hateful, black flies. The stats of the Yankee’s best pinch-hitter would pale by comparison to Tony’s accuracy with a flyswatter.

I am the modern version of Annie Oakley, choosing a deadly can of mosquito spray instead of her famous six-shooter. My aim is as good as any world record holder and, I am proud to say, I have not poisoned any one of the three of us, yet.

We have spent a Kings ransom on bug repellent products and built screens for every window and door on the Baja Buggy.

Dogs have chased us down desert roads, barking and biting at our heels, as we rode our bikes.

Tony had a minor run-in with an angry sting-ray.

Nothing has presented the challenge of Nacho the Cheeseman.

To the best of our recollection, we picked up our little hitch-hiker some time after arriving in La Ventana. Actually, it was soon after our encounter with the scorpion that we started to notice his tell-tale signs.

At first it was only some dust balls dragged out from under the refrigerator. We blamed it on the scorpion, spent hours researching them, found out that they could have up to twenty-five babies at a time and immediately panicked and tore apart the battery box we saw him run into. No sign of him or a nest! What next?

A couple of cold beers for Tony and a few rum and cokes for me and we decided to deal with it tomorrow.

Tomorrow came sooner than we expected and brought with it mouse turds on the kitchen counter. Ugh! Disgusting, but this seemed to us to be a simple problem. We’ve been catching mice all our lives and the last one was right here in the van. A quick trip to the store to buy a couple of traps and our problem would be solved. Tony happily left for the store, as I reminded him to get more beer, too. He smiled and waved good-bye. The nightmare had begun.

He bought two traps and set them with nice little hunks of my cheese…..the one that goes with my wine. I persevered and didn’t complain. He looked smugly at his decorated traps and went to bed, confident in his ability to conquer the mouse. I guess it’s a man thing.

He awoke with a start at dawn’s light, troubled by the fact that he had not heard the snapping trap. “Good God! The cheese is gone! The little SOB got the cheese out of both traps without setting them off,” were his good morning words to me. Stunned, he sat staring at his traps. I could tell he considered this a personal attack on his manhood. I was right. My chess-playing husband carefully constructed a strategy to outsmart this devilish creature. Different ideas for loading bait, different baits and various other options were discussed and decided before bedtime.

The following morning, and the following one and the following one, brought the same results. Cheese failed. Peanut butter failed. Tomato failed. Avocado failed. New traps were bought because it must be their fault. He accused the mouse of laughing at him. He bought poison and made poison-laced peanut butter on Ritz crackers. He bought sticky sheets and placed them in every cabinet.

Without fail, he was rewarded every morning with new mouse turds, more wood shavings, half eaten poison crackers, unsprung traps…devoid of their bait and what he swore were sounds of laughter coming from the cabinets. The sticky sheets collected a fly.

This mouse had now become legendary. Men all over the campsite were discussing The Battle of Tony and Nacho the Cheeseman. I hid my cheese.

Tonight he discovered Charro’s food.  It’s official…..everyone is now upset.

By the time we arrived in Las Barilles, it was decided that we needed more troops and a local exterminator was called in.

He armed us with infallible poison, stickier sticky sheets and he sprayed every nook and cranny of the van with the “strongest insect spray known to mankind in the world” just in case the scorpion was still hanging out. He guaranteed his products and told us a long list of varmints he had caught with them.

We felt confident and paid him in pesos. We took Charro to the pool and we all had a nice, long afternoon in the blazing, hot sun, so as not to kill ourselves breathing in the poison-filled air of the van.

He was right. Nacho seemed to be crazy about the poison squares. Every night he dined on a new one, carefully avoiding the “new and improved” sticky sheets. His turds seem to be getting bigger and we were sure he had gained weight.

We are now into our sixth week of Tony’s quest to eliminate Nacho the Cheeseman from our life. He has built a “better mousetrap” and he is arming it with his three traps, a diving board and pop-corn. The fact remains that Nacho is in his sixth week of survival.

image  The Construction

image  The Trap

image  The Result

We are three days from home, Nacho has come a long way, Tony has developed new bars for frustration and I think our little mastermind, our little super mouse will find a new home in Ensenada and this battle will be chalked up to a draw.

Footnote – Ding – Dong, The witch is dead!  So are her two babies and that’s how we know she is Nacha the Cheese Lady and not a Nacho.  Tony wins!

Footnote…Footnote – Fourth baby showed up today…..new exterminator…new traps….new sticky boards….so far, more expensive to maintain than Charro…..I think she is gloating!

Footnote….Footnote….Footnote… Tony and the exterminator think they have won.. No new signs this morning…stay tuned.

I Am a Star, A Superstar!

Imagine Being Me…. The Baja Buggy!”

image

Two thousand, four hundred and ninety-two miles…..hot desert highways…..ridiculously steep mountains…….winding two-lane, wash-board roads not wide enough for one car…….hard-pack, sand roads littered with soft-sand pits……endless miles of rutty, rocky, pitted dirt roads, into and over mountaintops. I did it all, yes I did!

image

image

image

image

My rewards…..peaceful, beautiful nights on sandy beaches…….an eclipse rising above mountaintops……breathtaking, scenic views beyond anyone’s imagination…….long leisurely rides on smooth, paved highways……. the notes of Verdi and Tchaikovsky echoing through majestic canyons……..warm rains washing the dust from my body. I did it all, yes I did!

image

image

image

image

Baja California trip, BCS, BCN, Mx. 2015

Ouicksand? What?

Imagine……Warm sand between your toes and ice in your drink!

image

San Felipe likes to think of itself as a small drinking town with a little fishing problem.”

Longfellow’s epic poem began, “On the shores of Gitche Gumee.” My tale begins, “On the shores of San Felipe.”

A casual, short drive up the coast of the Sea of Cortez led us to a charming little campo named Pete’s Camp. A campo in Mexico is a small village of homes and this one entices you with its long stretch of unadorned beachfront. We had visited here a couple of times in the past, but never stayed more than an hour or two.  Our visit last year revealed pretty palapas right on the sand and we immediately began anticipating our return with the Baja Buggy to enjoy the beautiful setting below the campo.

image We easily picked our favorite palapa. The only serious criteria seemed to be finding one with enough hard-pack sand as to not allow the Buggy to sink. Little did we know the irony in this thought.

image

Almost immediately after turning off the engine, we noticed that the tide was out and just happened to be the most stunning tidal drop we had ever seen. The water’s edge seemed to be about a half mile out and we decided to forgo setting up camp and trek out across the sea’s floor. Charro decided to follow us, unusual behavior for her…she hates the water and the sound of the waves….but her tail was up, so we let her follow.

image

My first exclamation at exploring the sandy bottom of the sea was that there were no shells to be found. Well, forgive the pun, but the tides turned. Within minutes, we had handfuls of black and brown ones that we had never seen before. We were delighted. We kept going further out, intrigued with the hunt for more shells. A kiter flew above us, seagulls and shorebirds circled overhead and the warm water washed over our feet. Charro frolicked a little bit behind us, actually getting wet. A perfect place to be, at a perfect time of the day.

image

We stopped for a moment to look at what appeared to be a very large ATV on the tides edge, a hundred or so yards to our right. Tony thought it might belong to the kiter and expressed concern that it might be stuck.

I bravely got a little ahead of Tony, just filled with joy at the beauty of this water phenomena. As I bent down to pick up a shell, my feet suddenly started to sink into slime. I kept going down, sinking deeper, when I felt Tony grab my arm. Sheer panic propelled me upward, my feet came loose and we all managed to get across the mud flats to safety.

As we again stood on hard sand, catching our breath, Tony declared we were going back and searched for a mud-free route.

I chose what seemed to be a mud-free route to the ocean’s edge. “After all,” I reasoned, “we had come this far. Why not finish the journey? Besides, there were probably even more beautiful shells at the water’s edge.” Who could possibly argue with my logic?

He reluctantly agreed and Charro plodded along, this time tail down, as we took off into the warm, shallow water again.

It wasn’t long before Tony and I sunk down at the same time into even stronger sucking sands. Raw fear overcame both of us. Tony freed himself first, I was struggling, but managed to scream for him to get Charro. He had already reached behind him and had her in his hand, as he grabbed me and set me free. Up and on the move again, we made it a second time, like we had wings on our feet.

image

After a minutes rest, we carefully scouted out a route back to shore and,ever so cautiously, walked it.

We noticed that we were very close to what we thought was the stuck ATV. It actually turned out to be a pick-up truck, abandoned by it’s owner who had gotten it stuck in the mud. The beast had unmercifully sucked the truck into a non-rescuable depth and destroyed it. It had been brand new and efforts to get it out of the sucking sea-bottom with cranes had been useless. It did not have the distinctiveness of being the entities first victim.

image

How lucky can two people and a dog be?