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Author: Subject: When did you first fall in love with Baja?
gueribo
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 12:26 PM
When did you first fall in love with Baja?


Hi, friends--I'm usually a bit quiet on the forum, but have enjoyed the shared love of Baja with you over the years. I'm curious--how did you all find Baja at first?

I'm originally from Santa Barbara, CA--born within a few blocks of Mission Santa Barbara--and was always interested in Spanish colonial history. I traveled to Central America in the 1990s to study Spanish, politics, theology, and culture, and later began to study the (Alta) California missions. Twenty years ago I traveled to Baja California for the first time, to visit an orphanage in Vicente Guerrero, and was invited to serve as an interpreter for a group of visiting dentists from California who set up a free clinic (they were kind, good-hearted people, treating as many children and families as they could before heading back).

One afternoon, on a little break, I drove across the arroyo and visited the ruins of the Santo Domingo mission. The site was sobering and captivating--such a different experience than the tours, crowds, and interpretive signs of the Alta CA missions. Once home, I began reading and studying...and I'm sure you can all relate to the feeling of being changed by Baja California. I returned to explore the other mission ruins, to visit the standing churches, to walk in the silence of the desert, to ride mules on the old camino, to get to know the unique plants and landforms of Baja, to meet the ranchers and pass some time under the eaves--never enough time. Lots of people helped me over the years, guided me, told me stories. I felt humbled by their hospitality. Every time I returned home, I only thought of going back again. Baja is a place that stays with you.

I know some of your stories, but I'd love to hear them again, and to hear more. When did you first fall in love with Baja? ♥


[Edited on 5-22-2021 by gueribo]
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JZ
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 01:56 PM


First went to Baja in the early 80's with my parents. We lived in Ohio and my sister (19 years older) lived out here in Long Beach. It was a 2 month road trip from OH to CA and back. We did a short weekend trip to TJ and down the coast to Rosarito. Was probably 9 or 10, but vividly remember an intersection in TJ where all traffic had to stop, and ppl could cross from all sides including diagonally. Have some old photos of my dad drinking tequila and dancing.

Moved out here in the mid-90's a couple years after college. Hit the clubs in TJ in the late 90's.

Started getting hooked on Baja in the early 00's doing boating trips from San Diego to Ensenada. Those were really fun trips, we got super close to the cliffs you see from Hwy 1. It's pretty spectacular from the water. Sometimes I took surfer friends and we anchored just outside the surf and took them in on a Zodiac. We did a couple runs back to the US in the fog or at night that now make me cringe to think about.

Late 2002 was the first big trip that really hooked us. Tried to take a boat 600 miles from San Felipe to San Carlos, Sonora and back. Made it to Santa Rosalia before I realized the foolishness of our attempt. Rode in a little Datsun pickup back to the border, and returned immediately with the truck and trailer to haul the boat out. About 28 hrs straight driving, as you had to go up to Ensenada back then and cut down to San Felipe. Then another 12 hrs of pulling the boat up to the border a few days later. Remember that steep grade leaving Santa Rosalia hauling 12,000 pounds. We listened to Ohio State beat the Miami Hurricanes for the college football national championship on a static filled AM station in the parking lot of a motel in San Quintín on Jan 3rd 2003. I'm a Buckeye, so that was super sweet.

Came back 5 months later more prepared and with a better weather window and made it to San Carlos. Actually really fell in love with San Carlos, Baja, and the Sea of Cortez on that trip. We stopped at Gonzaga Bay, Isla Angel de la Guarda, Bahia de los Angeles, Fransquito, and then crossed the SoC at the Midriff islands to Kino Bay before heading South to SC. Spent 8 years in San Carlos and did a bunch of boating trips from SC to Baja.

Started coming to Baja a lot more when my kids were old enough to ride bikes. Around 2010. Probably did 5 trips a year to Baja from then until now. The most was 2017 when we spent about 3 months in Baja. The boys and I rode hundreds of trails together over the last 5 years. It's in our blood and we are looking to buy a property in Loreto.

JZ on the right circa May 2003 in Gonzaga Bay.





[Edited on 8-1-2021 by JZ]




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westafricancaptain
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 02:10 PM


1968 was 16 yrs old Cinco de Mayo Hussongs Cantina! We drove down to surf San Miguel and K38. Had to tuck our surfer hair under a hat to cross TJ. Hippies weren't allowed then.
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 02:50 PM


1975. First trip to Conception Bay packing an inflatable. Scallop bed in the bay, lots of sea grasses and small fry in 1 ft. of water to see snorkling; fishing was outstanding. We hit the Serenidad pig roast on the way home. Couldn't wait for the next trip. We didn't get an FMM (if they were required I don't know), but paid $1 to the federales at the Maneadero check point on the way down. There was a 2-lane dirt road through Ensenada then. Good times.
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 03:59 PM


1986 was my first visit to Baja. I had spent a couple of long winter vacations on the mainland (Manzanillo) as a child with my parents in the late 50s, and as a young man in the mid 60s, but never experienced Baja until I had a family of my own.

My boys were 10, 14 and 16 when we finally were able to follow through with a dream of a home schooled semester on the road! We spent three and a half months, and drove 15k miles from Anchorage to Zihuantanejo and back!

A little over a month of the trip was discovering Baja, and I knew I would be coming back!




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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 05:23 PM


My first trip was in 1965, as a child going with my family to Gonzaga Bay in our new Jeep Wagoneer. I recall much of the trip from San Felipe south, an all-day drive in those days and south of Puertecitos was all in 4WD.

In 1966, we did THE TRIP, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, 800 miles were unpaved of the 1,056 some miles. A 2-week adventure. Took the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan for a less-punishing return trip. That was the trip that probably sealed me with Baja fever! I was almost 9 years old.

When we learned Mexico was going to build a paved road to replace the old main road, I had hoped to have my drivers license before it was built! My folks and I drove to Loreto in July 1973 and I documented the new highway progress and noted the new alignment and mileages. That became my first published road log. I was 15.

Alas, I turned 16 in Sept. 1973 as the highway neared completion. The first Spring Break (1974), I did drive in Baja with a friend, and left the new highway south of Chapala to go back north via Calamajué, Gonzaga, and San Felipe.

The rest is history!

[Edited on 5-23-2021 by David K]




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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 05:55 PM


Quote: Originally posted by lencho  
Quote: Originally posted by AKgringo  
...on the mainland (Manzanillo) as a child with my parents in the late 50s,

Ah, you happen to remember Barra de Navidad back then? How things have changed! :o


Yes, I have some memories and stories, but I don't want to hijack this Baja thread. I was last there for a couple of weeks in November 2007.




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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 06:25 PM


I had been going down to Ensenada since 1963 but that of course was not a real Baja experience. My first memorable Baja trip was in 1979 to Puerto Escondido. Baja was very different back then. Trips were expeditions. Loreto had just a single paved street from the highway to the mission. The bakery was a kiln on a side street where you purchased hot bread as it came out. There was no wharf at Pt Escondido. You camped on the beach. The reefs at Isls Carmen still produced Gulf Groupers on rod and reel. Much has changed but if you try real hard you can still experience old Baja in a few places.
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 07:37 PM


Wonderful stories! Keep 'em coming.
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 08:51 PM


1963, Hussongs
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[*] posted on 5-22-2021 at 09:17 PM


I partied in Tijuana in the mid 60s but I didn’t fall in love with Baja until I started traveling further south in the ‘70s. I attended an off road race or two and then just kept heading south. I drove to La Paz in ‘72 or ‘73, the highway was mostly complete except for about 60 miles in the area of the junction to LABay. Spent time in La Paz and still love that city.
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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 04:45 AM


1974. Flew down to BOLA with my dad, stayed at Casa Diaz. Road not yet paved in from Hwy 1 and most gringos came in from Puertocitos on motorcycles or 4WD. We flew a Cessna 182 from Burbank on charter trip.

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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 07:16 AM


1969 Flying fish buyers from Portland and Seattle to LaPaz.
We would stop in Mulege on the way North to fish for a couple days.
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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 07:30 AM


1961 on a family camping trip with an Airstream trailer to a beach somewhere near Ensenada.

That turned into annual jeep trips along the Sea of Cortez with other jeeping families from my home town, including one with a ferry ride to the mainland and return on pavement to Nogales.
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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 08:41 AM


Oh yes, the ferry ride! Our plan in 1986 was to take the ferry from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta, but that run was out of service at the time. We back tracked to La Paz, and took the ferry to Mazatlan and continued heading south.

Given the high rise developments that were getting started about then, the value of the real estate there apparently doomed the ferry terminal (and open air markets and restaurants) that were on the harbor.




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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 09:26 AM


Quote: Originally posted by westafricancaptain  
1968 was 16 yrs old Cinco de Mayo Hussongs Cantina! We drove down to surf San Miguel and K38. Had to tuck our surfer hair under a hat to cross TJ. Hippies weren't allowed then.
Exactly! Except I was 17. Loved those $.50 Lobster Burritos at La Salina. Then when I turned 18 it was time to hit the discos in TJ on Fri and Sat nights!:lol:



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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 09:29 AM


Quote: Originally posted by baja Steve  
1969 Flying fish buyers from Portland and Seattle to LaPaz.
We would stop in Mulege on the way North to fish for a couple days.

I'm assuming that included the Wed night Mexican buffets and Saturday pig roasts at the La Serenidad:lol:




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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 11:38 AM


Would love to see some vintage photos of your younger selves!
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gueribo
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[*] posted on 5-23-2021 at 11:42 AM


Quote: Originally posted by westafricancaptain  
1968 was 16 yrs old Cinco de Mayo Hussongs Cantina! We drove down to surf San Miguel and K38. Had to tuck our surfer hair under a hat to cross TJ. Hippies weren't allowed then.


Especially some hippie photos!
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[*] posted on 5-24-2021 at 07:24 AM


This thread triggered quite a few memories about that "86" trip. It was an adventure just getting to northern California, driving the Alcan and Cassiar highways in February was quite a start.

My parents in CA were experienced Baja travelers, and even were "wagon masters" on several RV tours with Vagabundos del Mar. They knew all the good spots to stop and camp.

One of their "must see" stops was at Mama Espinosa's place, where they were on a first name basis. Mama was pleased to see three generations traveling together!

Alaska plates on an old Suburban pulling a small boat started quite a few conversations throughout the trip, especially with kids on board!




If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space!

"Could do better if he tried!" Report card comments from most of my grade school teachers. Sadly, still true!
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