Baja Road Trip Part I
It was eight years ago that Brandon and I loaded into our mustard yellow ’77 Westphalia pop-top and road-tripped our way through Baja for the first time. It was love at first sight. A year later, wanting to get to know every nook and cranny of the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja peninsula, we built wood sea kayaks and paddled the entire length of the coast. We have made a few short trips since then, but these have just whetted our appetites to re- immerse ourselves in the Baja magic once again.
This winter, with Hayden as our inspiration, we are back for two months of paddling, walking long sandy beaches, enjoying a little sun, and letting Hayden feel the energy of our favorite playground on earth!
So far, the trip has been adventure-filled… but not without hitches. To name a few:
1. Call the bank to tell them you are leaving the country BEFORE you leave… or they may cut off your access when you try to use your debit card for the first time.
2. Once in the country, get money at the first bank you get to (not at the town in which you plan to sleep and re-fuel – they might not take credit or debit cards – even if they haven’t been cut off!)
And 3. Start off the trip with more than $20 American.
To defend my obvious blunders: Imagine preparing and packing for a two-month trip while chasing around a highly energetic 9-month old, then, entertaining the same highly energetic little fella for a 1500-mile drive. Yes, it has indeed left my brain a little mushy.
Anyway, the adventuring has been phenomenal!
Day one we crossed the Mexico border in Tecate and headed south. About 6 hours later we stopped for the night into El Rosario. After a good night’s sleep, we belted up for an off-road drive for the hardy that would take us to the Pacific, and to Hayden’s first Baja beach! Brandon handled every bump, rut, and car-eating pothole like a champ and we arrived to a completely deserted mile-long stretch of sandy beach. Rocky points jutted out at each end like bookends. We walked to one end, then the other. Hayden was mesmerized by the waves crashing on shore and the water rising and falling on the beach. Suddenly the stress of packing, long days in the van, and things forgotten disappeared. For the next 2 months… this is it!
After a picnic lunch we headed to our favorite desert getaway in Baja, Catavina. Giant car and house size boulders seem to have landed here from nowhere. Stacks of these rocks combined with giant Cordon cacti, and what we fondly refer to as “Dr. Seuss Trees”, and left us drop-jawed taking it all in. We found a camp spot hidden amongst one of the giant rock piles, set up camp and spent the next few hours hiking between and over the geological wonders.
After a gorgeous, star-filled night in Catavina it was time to get to what we were here for: the Sea of Cortez. Our day’s destination: Bahia de Los Angeles. And a quick 100-mile drive would take us there!
Back in 2000, when we first paddled the Sea of Cortez, we arrived to the “Bay of LA” on water that was calm as glass, only to be pounded by winds for the next 5 days. The island-choked entry of the bay, combined with its steep surrounding mountain range make it as beautiful as it is dangerous. Mild winds have greeted us so far this trip, allowing Brandon and I to get out on training paddles in the surfski. But the highlight has been carrying Hayden’s little wood kayak down to the beach with its new ‘outrigger’ stabilizers Brandon rigged. All three of us laughed as he sat smiling in his little, and with a push gliding back and forth between Mama and Papa. He loved it! And later, when he sat in the sand looking out across the bay, pointing at the birds flying overhead and picking up rocks and shells at his feet, his smile said it all.
We plan to stay here, adventuring with Hayden, taking long walks on the beach and training on our surfski, for the next week.
In the Spirit of Compassion and Adventure
Heather, Brandon and Hayden Storm