23-December-1992 5:45 PM

This has been a day like the tides. The emotions rolled from low to high. It started early in the day. We had eaten another breakfast of oatmeal and finished packing up camp. All was ready to leave. Except my jeep. Seems like it had other plans in mind, like staying. The engine cranked and turned, but would not start. Turn and turn and turn. but no ignition. Turn a little more and then stop: dead battery. A jump from Mario’s pickup solves that problem. We checked everything: the fuel going to the filter; the fuel coming out of the filter; the fuel coming out of the carburetor jets; spark from the distributor; air filter…

Then the thought occurred that the gas might not be that great. A little camping white gas down the throat of the carburetor and the jeep starts. It stalls right away, but it started. Bad gas. We keep trying the white gas till it keeps running. No problem. Once it was wanned up, it ran fine.

I realize that real negative emotions were pouring from me at the time the jeep wouldn’t start. I snapped at Mario and cursed at nothing. That was a bad thing. I have to keep better control. I offer Mario my apologies, I didn’t mean to offend him.

Off we go back to Gueren-o Negro. We top off the cars and I buy some octane booster. We hope it will help starting in the morning. Tomorrow will tell.

We stop at a phone. Bibi wants to call her daughter, Leah, to make sure that everything is OK at home. Mario stops in the liquor store for some tequila. I go to the pharmacy looking for another notebook. This one is filling up fast. Bibi cannot get through to an international operator. That will have to wait. Perhaps the next large town will have a phone.

One more stop for some purified water. So far we’ve only used about 6 gallons of the fresh water we brought along. And that includes the showers.

In the next little town, we top off the tanks again. Now we’re heading into the desert and there won’t be another station for a couple of hundred miles.

We turn off the trans-penninsula highway onto a small paved road. A few miles later and it turns into a dirt road. A dirt road with lots of washboard. Very, very bumpy washboard. But if we keep the speed above 55, it smoothes out. Just have to watch out for those car eating potholes…

A couple of stops along the way yield 2 or 3 nights of firewood. Some of the rather large pieces are strapped to the top of the jeep. It looks like antlers have grown. Interesting sight.

We turn off the main dirt road heading into a village. Civilization is the last thing we want just now. Even a simple fishing village. After driving through the desert on a bumpy dirt road, we reach the pacific ocean.

Stopping at some sand dunes let’s us scout the trail ahead on foot. The top of the dunes show us a blue ocean. The sand under foot is oh so fine and the air around is a warm temperature. The sky above is clear and blue. Breath-taking.

We decide that the dunes would be too tough to climb with the vehicles. Besides, it is too pristine a scene to disturb with tire tracks. Doubling back a bit and taking another trail shows an easy way down to the beach.

Stopping again to scout about reveals a beach not of sand, but of shells’ Dunes, hills and flat stretches of land all covered with shells. Digging a hole about a foot deep shows nothing but shells. Little ones, big ones; whole, broken, smooth and rough. Nothing but shells. Amazing. Never before have I seen such a sight. Along the water in both directions, nothing but shells.

We drive past one potential spot for camp. It’s close to the beach and protected from the wind by some small dunes. It even has the remains of a file ring.

Mario is slowly traveling the trail and I follow cautiously behind. He rounds a bend over small hill and gets stuck. The shells we were driving on give way and the pickup sinks. Some quick digging and he is free.

The trail ahead is nothing but shells. Lots of places to get stuck. We’re going to head back to the first site we saw and Mario is stuck again. This time digging doesn’t help very much. Letting some air out of the tires increases the traction, but not enough to get out. The pickup moves forward a bit more and sinks once again. Time to winch it out. We set up an anchor in the shells hoping that it will grab and hold. Nothing doing. The winch just pulls it free and drags it through the shells. Digging a hole about 1 1/2 feet shows some sand. Bury it there and try again. All we do is dig up more shells. I think that these dunes are nothing but shells.

Since the jeep is on fairly solid ground, we try using it as an anchor point. Move it slightly to bring it in line with the pickup and place wheel chokes to keep it there. Mario’s winch line is too short to make it all the way so we use mine to make up the difference. At last, a stable anchor and the pickup is moving. It gets to a point of solid level ground and Mario is able to drive the rest of the way out.

Dinner is now ready, Mario just called. I must break away from the sounds of the waves to feed. I wonder what it will be tonight.

22-December-1992 About 6:30 PM

This marks the second day in a row I’ve been awake for sunrise and then sunset. Both were incredible. I’ve never done that before.

This is the second night we’ve epent at Scannon’s Lagoon. This is where the gray whale ends it’s migration from the Arctic, Thís is where they calve, giving birth to their young. They stay in this place till the spring, nursing and feeding the young. Then it’s another trek back north to the Arctíc.

This is early in the season, they just begin to arrive about now. So far we’ve only seen water spouts and some backs above the water line. Locals run a service where they take you out onto the lagoon where you can actually touch them. We passed on going out this morning and will do so again tomorrow. It would be nice to return here in a month’s time to actuall go out but I doubt this wíll happen.

This past night, I slept under the stars. Just to lie back and gaze is a wondrous thing. It makes me feel humble and insígnificant. But it also makes me realize that anything is possible. I will sleep out under the stars again tonight. Who knows, perhaps this time I’ll make friends with some of the coyotes.

Mario and Bibi slept in the pickup again this past night. Bibi didn’t sleep too well. Mario pretended to be a log. Night before last it was the opposite. Tonight I hope they both sleep well.

Today was very easy going. After a breakfast of hot oatmeal, we took a short hike along the shore. Maybe 3-4 miles each way. We had some lunch at the turn around point. Dried fruit, cheese, rye crisps, salami and fresh oranges fill the belly and make the legs move. Once back at camp, Mario and I walk down the other shore line. I went for a quick dip ín the water while Mario tried to do some fishing. I found the water to be a little bit chilly but clean and invigorating.

This whole area is marsh land surrounding the lagoon. Our camp site is at a point where the land sticks a bit out into the water, the whole lagoon is to the left and behind with a small leg off in front and to our right. At the time Mario was fishing, the tide was moving past.

I walked ‘a couple of miles past Mario just to see where the shore went. Along the way, I picked up several seashells for Mrs. B’s daughter Jessica; she tells me that she has a collection,

Along the way I met a rather large flying insect. About 2 inches long, black body with wide bright red wíngs. It seems that I came to close to it’s habitat. It flew to wíthin about 15 feet and hovered for a second. As I backed away from it’s home it kept the distance about the same. If I stopped, it stopped. Once I was outside of whatever imaginq boundary it maintains, it broke off contact and returned home. Interesting encounter.

Mario was no where to be seen on the way back. It seems that the tide got too low for him to fish. The fishing line would bring in weeds every time. I’ve never seen a dde go out so far, so fast. The tracks I made along the water line on the way out are now at least thirty feet from the water.

Getting back to camp I find Bibi getting ready to treat herself to a shower. First one since Saturday morning. While waiting for my turn, I wandered back out onto the water in search of clams. The only ones I could find were under 2″. Too small for dinner. I keep walking to see where the water gets deep. I gave up trying when it got half way up my calves. I counted steps coming back: over 300 to the shore line high tide mark. Gee, this is shallow.

Getting back it’s my turn in the shower. What a treat it is to wash your hair after a few days. Soap and water are our friends. Long live the friendship.

We had a simple dinner tonight of been and cheese burritos. These were tasty. With a little bit of hot sauce, they hit the spot.

Mario and Bibi drag me out of my chair by the fire. They say they want to show me something. Yeah right, where have I heard that before. We walk over to the shore line and look out over the water. There is a faint silvery shaft of light reflecting across the water, the light reflecting off a nearby planet! I’ve never seen that before. From a planet! maybe mars or Venus. Or even mercury. Simply beautiful.

I sit alone by a dying fire. The others went to sleep early, a little past 7. There is no more wood. The fire will bum out in a short time. My sleeping bag and mat must still be set out. After that, maybe I’ll try naming some of the constellations. My sister Elizabeth gave me a gift last year to help learn about the constellations. I’ve tried using it before, with very limited luck. Maybe this time will be better. Or better yet, going to sleep and dreaming of traveling among them.

21-December-1992 About 7 in the Evening

Rolling through the desert today, we saw nature unfolding. A mesa perhaps 800 feet (or should I say 250 meters) was melting into the surrounding plains. During the rainy season, sky water runs down the walls of the cliffs dragging bits along the path, After some time, the walls have eroded in far enough so the mesa floor collapses down the side. After the season is over, the earth bakes beneath a desert sun. Before too many seasons have passed, the mesa will be no more.

At a point during the days journey, Bibi spotted a stash of dead wood on the road side. Driving past it, we watched for more stashes and stopped at the next one found. We sit now before a fire given by the wood. One of the larger pieces is burning now. The bottom end has several stubby arms. Two of these form a cat’s head and paw in the fire. His ears are standing straight up, facing the other side of the fire. And an arm is extended before his face as if playing with a ball of string. Or swatting the flames away.

Dinner is done, dishes are cleaned and bellies are full once again. A glass of wine sipped here, maybe some water there. The closest neighbor is several miles away from us. A peaceful, introspective time. We’re all quietly thinking.

The day gone past was eventful, to say the least. Mario obtained a cash advance at BanaMex. Our cash flow problems are resolved. Short of extremely foolish waste, we should be able to hit all the places we planned. I feel small, not bringing enough money was very stupid. Well, learn from the mistakes.

The morning started on a sour note. While trying to adjust the driver’s mirror to face away from the jeep, it broke off. It wouldn’t budge, so I pushed harder and then it was gone. Nothing more to push against. The mirror was laying on the sand. The mounting base had broken in half. It seems that the hinge froze in place. I used epoxy to join the two pieces back together. It should be dry by tomorrow.

We stopped to get gas in a town called Jesus Maria. When my turn at the pump arrived, the attendant happily fi1led the tank. Once done, he smiled and asked for 91,OOO pesos. Without thinking, I handed him the money. I started the jeep and pulled to where Mario and Bibi waited in the shade. They asked how many liters I used. My reply was a shrug, I’m not sure. How much money? 91,OOO. A quick calculation by Mario shows that to be about 19.75 gallons. Since the tank holds 20 gallons and the needle was a little above ‘E’, I was robbed. I’d guess it waS 18,000 to 20,000 pesos. There was no way to prove it, the money was lost. More foolishness.

Coyotes were howling and laughing in the distance before. Now there is one barking just outside our camp. Mario had to climb on the roof of his pickup to find him with the flood light. Seems he needed to use Bibi’s rest room for himself. He’s marking around the outside of our camp. Territory boundaries? Perhaps it’s his way of welcoming us to dinner.

We set up a lean-to to block the wind which hounded us before. Two of the grommets tore loose and needed a quick repair. Duct tape works wonders. I plan to sleep under it tonight. The temperature is perfect when out of the wind. Cool enough to let you see your breath. Good sleeping weather.

The cat has gone the way of the wind. Blown off as ashes and dust. The coyotes have returned to their plains. Maybe they’ll be back later, maybe not. Mario is being chased by the smoke as he tries to add fuel to the fire. Bibi is wrapped wíthin a blanket near the fire. And I’m listening to the sounds and sights of another fire in the middle of nowhere.

21-December-1992 1:00 PM

We stopped for gas after almost running out. Both cars had gas gauges which read empty. A major concern we have now is running out of money. No money, no gas. No gas, no home. This fill up leaves me with 2l,OOO pesos. (about $7.O0) Mario the bank has more, maybe $150. We’ll see what happens.

20-December-1992, 7:00PM

I had to ask Mario for the time, I was off by almost an hour. Normally my internal clock tells me what time it is. Is this a sign that we have left the civilized world?

We sìt before a raging duraflame log campfire. The logs were Mario’s idea to offset the chance that there would not be any driftwood, around. Clever guy. There is soft jazz music playing on the CD player and gentle lapping waves from the bay. We are at Bahia De Los Angles. It’s on the east side of baja, along the Sea of Cortez.

We found this spot with luck and indecision. Today we planned to be in Guerero Negro. Just after we passed the turn off to this peaceful habitat, we pulled over to discuss the options available to us. Since it was about 3:OO in the afternoon and GuereRo Negro was about another 1 1/2 to 2 hours away, we would only get there after dark. We’d then stíll have to find a camp. Too much hassle at night. We made it here with plenty of light by which a camp could be set.

Setup was fairly quick. I’ve setup my tent so many times that it’s almost become a thoughtless reaction. Mario and Bibi have the simple life. You see, Mario has built a camping storage container in the back of his pickup. With a shell on top, it makes a perfect bedroom. Throw down a pair of therma-rest pads and a pair of sleeping bags, it’s just like home. Well close enough.

Mario cooked dinner tonight. Wonderful stuff, Tortellini and Knorr Veggie soup. Mixed together, this stew like substance is warm and filling. He can cook for me anytime. We cleaned up right after dinner. This was weird because we usually hang about and bullshit for a while. Different place, different style.

The ride here was very strange. There were fields which were covered with cactus. Fields of boulders which made me drool for climbìng. With Bìbi along, Mario wouldn’t stop for an afternoon of bouldering, there will be other spots. Both of us have our gear along. One can always hope…

Then there were stretches of road where I became very bored. My eyes were heavy and I thought of sleeping. I don’t understand why.

In each town we drove through that had a gas station, we would stop and fill up. Mario kept saying we don’t know where the next one will be. I didn’t really believe him until we passed several which were closed down. The clincher was the one that ran out of gas while they, were pumping gas into my jeep! I wonder what kind of junk is at the bottom of the tank.

The most amazing part of this leg of the journey has to be the trek through the valley approaching Bahia De Los Angeles. As we climbed over a mountain pass, a valley floor rose up to meet us. It stretched for miles across, the sìght was breath taking. A smooth flat valley floor opening out to rolling hills on the far side. The hills open up to sheer cliff faces and mountains. The hills stretch to the left of the road for a far as the eye can see. A wonderful treat for the optic receptors. On the opposite side, there are small canyons among tall cliffs. I’m certain that the other side of the valley is similar in features.

Driving around the far side of some hills brings us to our first view of the bay. Nestled between the vee of two ridges, the water is deep blue opposing the brown ridges. Driving further shows us more of the bay ítself. Small peeks until the whole is exposed. Once in full, there are brown islands among a blue canvas. Truely inspiring.

The town by the bay is like so many others we’ve passed through, simple and poor. This one is alittle different, there is supposed to be a paved airstrip so somewhere. But the town has no phones. Go figure. We hope there is a gas station in town that is open for business, Tomorrow will tell.

Mario and Bibi just got baçk from a short walk. I guess it’s almost bedtime. Mario has put on Enya, an Irish vocalist. Lullaby music, peaceful and relaxing. Good music by to which to star gaze.