Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dude-Watching at La Ventana

Everyone knows that whale watching tours are a big deal here in Baja every winter.  But ask any windsurfer or kite boarder where they yearn to go in Baja, and you’ll hear one universal response—La Ventana! 

The word means “window” in Spanish, but here I think it’s more appropriately translated as “WIND..OH!!!”  The northern winter winds seriously blow here, and that’s why it’s such a world-class destination for these sports. 

My brother loves to windsurf almost as much as he loves to snow ski, and La Ventana has been on his bucket list for years now.  So I did what any loving sister would do when only 45 minutes away from a sibling’s dream destination.  I drove down to check it out for him!

Of course, there’d be plenty of tanned, muscular young men calling each other “Dude!”, so I considered this daytrip my “Dude Watching Tour” (ah, such a research assignment!).

Millie and I jumped in the Tracker and started following the first VW bus we saw with surf gear loaded on the roof.  This would surely lead us straight to La Ventana…. and we were right!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Shopping & Strolling Around La Paz

Like any Saturday in the U.S., the biggest shopping day of the week in La Paz, Baja Sur is Saturday.  Ursula and Hans have lots of mercados (markets) and tiendas (stores) to show me.  We start with the organic veggie market next door to the RV park. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

1,000 Miles to La Paz

Millie and I completed the final leg of our “Baja 1,000”-mile journey from the U.S. border to La Paz on New Year’s Eve.  It was about 220 miles from Loreto to La Paz and would have been an easy 5-hour drive had it not been for a couple diversions along the way…

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Christmas Week in Loreto

As much as Millie and I loved Playa Santispac, the lack of phone or internet signal would be just too big a barrier for the upcoming Christmas holiday.  I looked forward to video chatting or calling my family, and wanted to be somewhere with good connectivity.

Loreto was happy to oblige! 

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Best Boondocking Beach in Baja

Whenever I thought about spending my winter days lazily boondocking on a beach in Baja, this was always the scene I always imagined—RV’s (not too many, not too few) parked around an emerald bay with views of islands in the distance.

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When we first drove down Baja Highway 1 and crested the hills south of Mulegé to see this stunning picture postcard in real-life for the first time, I knew I wanted to come back ASAP to camp at Playa Santispac along the Bahía de Concepción.  So after a few days together in Loreto, when Hans and Ursula continued south to La Paz to visit their old sailing buddies,  Millie and I backtracked 70 miles north to find a bit of paradise on the beach!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lovely Historic Loreto

If you’ve ever visited San Juan Capistrano in southern California, and marveled at its mission dating from 1775 as being the oldest of California, that’s true.  It’s the oldest mission site in the state of California—but not the oldest of all the Californias!   That title belongs to Loreto, Baja Sur.   Jesuits began their mission work here nearly 80 years earlier, in 1697,  and Loreto was the original capital city of both Alta and Baja California.

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Today, the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó serves as Loreto’s historic and spiritual center.  Hans, Ursula, and I spent a few days exploring this town and its historic missions just before Christmas. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From One Oasis to Another

After 2 long days or driving, today’s drive from San Ignacio to Loreto will be a more leisurely 170 miles.  Which means we have time to tour the main attraction in town—the eigteenth-century Mision San Ignacio Kadakaaman.

To get to town, we first pass this lovely pond.  Is that a volcano in the distance?

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Palm trees continue as we make our way down to the town center--

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So, check, the tour books are right!  San Ignacio is, indeed, an oasis in the desert!  Now, on to the Mission…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Candles as far as the eye can see!

Studying our Baja route via Google maps, I knew we’d be driving through the very large Valle de los Cirios (Valley of the Candles) nature preserve.  At a gigantic 9,737 square miles, it’s Mexico’s largest land-based protected area, and is simply incomprehensible how vast it really is until you begin to traverse it in-person. 

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Once you finally reach this park’s southern border (and think you’re now back to civilization),  you quickly begin crossing another large park, the Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera de El Vizcaíno), which protects numerous islands, lagoons and marine life in addition to volcanoes, sand dunes, and desert lands.  Together, the 2 parks consume a whopping 1/3 of the entire 1,000-mile Baja peninsula!

Our 490-mile route from Ensenada to San Ignacio took us 2 full days of driving to cross these parks driving along the very, VERY narrow (but paved) Baja Highway 1.  While one can easily drive 500 miles a day in the U.S., on the Baja during the shorter days of winter,  250 miles a day is about the best one can do driving an RV!

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Making This Year Meaningful

I know my northern friends are suffering frigid winter temperatures right now and dearly waiting for more travel stories and pictures from warm and sunny Baja.  I promise to post more of those soon, but today, as my first post of 2015, I need to share some thoughts from my heart.

Back in September, when I learned that Millie’s cancer had returned, I vowed to make whatever remaining months or years Millie might have as enjoyable as I could make them.  Finding her great, warm places to swim was (and will continue to be) a top priority, like this gorgeous beach (Playa Santispac) that we camped at recently in Baja.

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2014 was a transformational and completely mind-bending year for me—my first full year of being intentionally jobless and the year I sold almost all of my possessions to live in a 130 square foot rolling home.  Friends and blog readers have often commented “you’re living the life others only ever dream about”  and it is the honest truth that I never go through a day without at least a brief feeling of gratitude for the incredible freedom and blessed life that I currently live.   But every day is not picture-perfect postcard.

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