Friday, March 31, 2006

Baja: A Collage

Returned last night from six days and over 1,500 miles of driving Baja California, Mexico, with a couple good friends. We crossed the border in Tecate, a lovely Mexican town, and headed south through Ensenada, San Quentin, El Rosario, Catavena, Bahia de Los Angeles, San Borja, La Rosalallita, and then north again.

Here are more than a few images from this awesome trip, where our three primary goals were all attained: 1) Find the world's tallest boojum, 2) Eat as many fish tacos as possible, 3) Swim (or at least submerge ourselves) in both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez.


South of Tecate we found this colorful cemetery off Mexico Highway 1.
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Flowering aloe in a planter along a beach north of San Quentin.
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The first night we camped along the beach north of San Quentin. Here's our campsite at dusk.
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And here's the beach and the mighty Pacific, which was both cold and mighty indeed, quite literally sweeping me off my feet.
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One of the best things about the trip was all of the little discoveries, especially unexpected plants. This is buckwheat along the side of the dirt road between our campsite and Highway 1.
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The long road down the Baja peninsula: Mexico Highway 1.
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Another discovery at a random photography stop: A near-white agave that is very rare in the U.S.
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Surrounding Catavena is a massive boulder field, from which grow an awesome assortment of desert plants, including elephant trees, cordon cactus, boojum, chollas, barrel cactus, and much more.
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Boojum blooms from last year set against a curving boojum, which is related to the ocotillo but is unlike anything you've ever seen before.
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This is a spiky desert plant growing in the sand of an arroyo itself twining among Catavena boulders.
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Mexican blue palms grow wild here. This is our second morning, and another beautiful sunrise.
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Following Catavena we take Highway 3 to Bahia de Los Angeles, with stops on the way to photograph wide forests of cordon and boojum.
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Low tide along the Sea of Cortez, looking east toward islands in the gulf. This is a morning shot following one of the windiest nights of my life---at least in a tent.
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Close view of cordon cactus, which are like saguaro though taller, less prickly, and a bit more elegant, I think.
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Another view of cordon as we make our way into a thick forest of cordon and boojum in search of the world's tallest boojum.
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And this is it! Verifiably the world's tallest boojum, at (by our field caculations) 81 to 90 feet tall. But I'm not telling you where it is...!
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Not far from the tallest boojum is a low cliff with dozens of Indian petroglyphs such as these.
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After Bahia de Los Angeles, we decided to hobble over the very rocky (and very beautiful) trail to the San Borja Mission, built in 1762 among both cold and hot springs of central Baja. They get very few visitors, so were delighted to see us.
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From there, we traveled west again to the Pacific Coast, where at La Rosalallita there is a beach where I could spend the rest of my days in utter peace.
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The beach is on a bay, well-sheltered and housed on one side by dunes of the finest sand.
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Another beautiful sunrise. Because the beach is on a point, the water was actually to our east and not our west. So the Pacific, over the dunes, over the point, was actually behind us.
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Sunrise, same morning, though I imagine they're almost all like this.
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The point, with its tide pools and evening sea lion colony, divides the bay on the left from the Pacific on the right.
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On the next-to-last day, heading north out of La Rosalallita and through Catavena and El Rosario, we had a light drizzle. The Mexican fire barrel cactus, such as this one, flared despite the rain.
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Along the way, we had plenty of excellent tacos de pescade, spent some time in Ensenada and Tecate (prefering the latter over the former), and saw lots of wildlife, such as vermilion flycatchers, hermit crabs, buzzards, giant sand crickets, a sea lion, pelicans, enormous black-tailed jackrabbits, and far too many wild Mexican dogs. All in all, it was a great trip. I'm still very much in a Baja state of mind, and look forward to Mexico again.

7 comments:

shann said...

beautiful-

after three emergency room visits in a week (daughter's boyfriend- flu and dehydration, husband- wrench under pressure into lip- six stitches, tonight- son, almost 22, anxiety attack at work after a night of no sleep and little food (and a bit of drinking)- zanax)

your pictures are a blessing

Suzanne said...

Thanks for bringing the desert back with you--stunning photos, Simmons.

jd said...

What a fascinating trip. I am amazed at the variety, even in such an arid region. In fact, the aridity makes the plant life so much more unique.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Sh - I have to say my week was much better than yours. Sorry for your sufferings, and glad the photos provided a bit of a respite.

Su - The desert is still definitely with me! And even though both Tucson and Baja are considered Sonoran desert, it's amazing how different the regions are, though both wonderful.

JD - Along the coast Baja is not really arid; or at least the nightly and morning fogs provide plenty of water for the coastal plants. Along the Sea of Cortez, around Bahia de Los Angeles, it is definitely arid. But like you mention there are still these awesome plants like Mexican ocotillo trees.

Already thinking about the next trip down!

Sheryl said...

These photos are awesome! They make me realize that I need to observe things more carefully!

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Thanks Sheryl! It's much easier to observe things more carefully when off the beaten track and away from the computer and work, that's for sure!

StrawBoss said...

I am afflicted with such wanderlust and your pictures only increase the itchy foot symptomology...Have to get this house finished and hit the road! Judy