Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Baja Shapes

Going out with a flare on this Baja blog series, as I'm throwing out a final thirty-five---yes, that's 35---photos in rough chronological order. You may berate me for this inundation at your leisure.


Entering the coastal range south of Tecate, as we approach Ensenada and the Pacific, Baja California definitely felt tropical with the low clouds and steep green mountainsides.
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At the risk of cliche, I include a cow skull photo; the skull was not randomly placed outside a youth hostile along the coast north of San Quentin.
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Now this is more like it: a small agave hiding beneath a dirt road's shoulder as we headed east from the ocean for Mexico Highway 1.
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Further south along Highway 1 we were delighted to find these nearly luminescent agaves among sharp, rust-colored rocks.
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Ground-dwelling yucca was fairly common both near the coast and inland.
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Since reading Dan Brown's fascinating Da Vinci Code, I'm all giddy about pentacles, such as this senita cactus with its damaged top.
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When I describe the boojum, such as this curved one near Catavina, I say it's a Dr. Seuss tree. Oh the places we'll go!
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An elephant tree growing from large boulders stands about twelve feet tall and twenty feet wide.
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One partner in crime: Scott Calhoun, author of Yard Full of Sun: The Story of a Gardener's Obsession That Got a Little Out of Hand, and the impetus behind our Baja excursion.
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Along Highway 1, through the boulder field, we found an area particularly pleasing to vultures. Here, one sits atop a boojum, and another atop a cordon cactus.
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Mexican fire barrel cactus: clearly, I love them, though more in an aesthetic than a touchy-feely kind of way.
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The other partner in crime: Dan Weber, who provided transport in his Toyota 4Runner, skims across a giant granite boulder from which organ pipe cactus and other plants grow.
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In the wide, sandy arroyo among the boulder field, several beautiful plants like this one grow.
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A canyon of Mexican blue and fan palms in the early morning light.
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Giant agave with stalk along Highway 3, the road to Bahia de Los Angeles and the Sea of Cortez.
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Closeup view of another agave, though I believe the same species.
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Yellow cholla fruit; clearly, even the fruit dares you to touch it.
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The photos of the boojum/cordon forest where we found the world's tallest boojum don't do justice to the sheer density and height of the plants. These cordons are about forty feet tall, and in many places it was not possible to walk between them.
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Curving boojum in the foreground with tall yuccas in the background.
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Boojum skeletons are very similar to cholla skeletons, and provide habitat for scorpions and other huggable desert critters.
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New cordon growth among old.
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A distinctly Baja variety of cholla with long but papery spines that nonetheless, it was proven, will go through much of a hiking boot's soul.
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Cordon 'trunk' in the warm afternoon light.
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Another, less common species of elephant tree---not yet leafed and much smaller than those found around Catavina---in front of cordon.
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The pentacle again: this time a healthy senita cactus.
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Mexican ocotillo trees were blooming, and while the flowers are nearly identical to 'traditional' ocotillo blooms, here they turn orange after opening.
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The Sea of Cortez from a beach just north of Bahia de Los Angeles.
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A carved stone downspot at Mission de San Borja, way way off the beaten path.
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Looking from San Borja's second-story loft to the thin, slope-stepped spiral staircase.
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Back on the Pacific coast, at La Rosalallita, among soft, light sand dunes.
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My Sierra Designs tent, now fifteen years old, still serves me well.
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Fish or whale vertebrae along the rocky point dividing the bay at La Rosalallita from the mightier Pacific. This section of backbone is about two and a half feet long.
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A tidepool along the same point. Here we saw many fish, hermit crabs, a giant sea slug, anemones, and more.
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A flower before the finale? Closeup of a San Diego sunflower, taken on Highway 1 as we headed north toward Ensenada.
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Wishing you a fond farewell, and many happy returns.
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So that's good-bye from Baja. And I haven't had the urge to write about the trip (though I'm writing at least a small article for our neighborhood newspaper) I think both because I'm still in that Baja state of mind, and also because the photos do all the talking, or at least enough of it. And if you happen to be in Tucson on November 19, come to my slideshow on Baja that's part of the Civano Speakers Series.

5 comments:

shann said...

I love the loft picture- I love them all- but if i had a book, I'd use the loft picture for a cover-

thanks for all these shots!

Suzanne said...

Thank you for these, Simmons. Thanks for the whole series.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Thank ye kindly! And Shann, I'd be happy to offer up that photo for your next book cover! I have it in high-resolution format (8.1 megapixel).

Diana Marie Delgado said...

wow, the pics are beautiful!

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