A walk with books back in Time along the biways of Baja

Baja Bernie - 1-12-2013 at 02:08 PM

I start this walk back through the history of Baja with the one book that totally captured my heart. Lady Jane is a wonderful hostess whose knowledge of this magical village is unsurpassed. Her private garden is an enchanting place where one can relax and wander back in time to when the Padres build the first water works…Part of it still wanders through her private garden. The vibrant plants provide a wonderful aroma and antique toys and tools seem to have been just tossed about in a haphazard manner. We stayed in the room that “Jimmy Smith” wrote most of his book. In the dark and so very quiet night I visited with Don Jimmy and we had a fantastic conversation.

The Voices of San Ignacio Edited by Jane Beard Ames Enchanting compilation of the verbal history of this wonderful Oasis accompanied by numerous pictures of the people and buildings of this magical village.
If you wish a copy of this works you will have to travel the Casa Leree’
and the home of the Editor of this wonderful book. Should you wish to purchase this masterpiece be sure to tuck a Fifty dollar bill into the back of your wallet. Give some serious thought to spending the night in one of the rooms at her Casa which she does rent with reservations

Lower California Guidebook by Gebard and Gulick

Baja California Railways by John A Kirchner…like new with dust cover…a really fun book that speaks to the first Tijuana Trolley…and the sailing ships that ran b e and they ran weekly to the ‘Little Yellow House’ on Pt. Loma and it was just a quick ride from there to Old Town.

Baja California by Ralph Hanc-ck & Ray Hatter, Mike Mc Mahan, & Frank Alvarado…that is sure a bunch of old Baja hands to draw to.

Baja Traveler A comprehensive pictorial guide for pilots, yachtsmen and recreational drivers 1974 by Harry Merrick…Ask David K…this is his kind of book

The Baja Book III by Tom Miller and Carol Hoffman…Ray Cannon said no one should venture into Baja without a copy in hand. 1992

Baja Bound To Cabo and Back by Taggart George 2006…probably the worst book I have ever read on Baja…but that is just my opinion.

Adventures in Baja by (the King) Mike McMahn…he’s been everywhere on the peninsula and called all of the old timers ‘Friend’.

There it is BAJA! BY Mike McMahan 1974…’nough said if you don’t know of Mike then you don’t know much about Baja

Forgotten Waters by Randolph Leigh…with a map of Baja, Sonora and Sinaloa so you can follow his voyage on the Sea of Cortez 1941…I still like to call it the Vermillion Sea…fantastic book for Yachtsmen.

The Baja Feeling by Ben Hunter 1978…Ben was a big time radio and TV announcer way back when…he certainly captured the feeling of Baja…He never did say where he built his home in Baja but my guess is the surfing
Village of San Miguel

Baja Book IV the guide to today’s Baja 1996…by The wonderful daughter of Mike McMahan and the wife of Chuck Potter…Ginger Potter…Sadly all three have passed on to a better place where they are all telling story’s with that greatest of all Baja storytellers…Jimmy Smith. Jimmy’s book will be listed somewhere below.

A History of Lower California by Pablo L. Martinez 1960 If you wish to really know the entire history of Baja this is the book, He takes you along on a Manila Galleon along the entire west coast of Mexico He cover the Pirates who hug out in the Sea of Cortez to attack the Galleons. Then Padre Kino and everything else about Baja…Recommended to me by Jimmy Smith who said he felt it was the most comprehensive book ever written on Baja.

King of the Moon by Gene Kira 1997..I believe it to be the best fiction book of modern time about the people of Baja…Gene is the Fishing editor for the Western Outdoor Magazine…He replaced Fred Hoctor there after Fred died. Fred wrote Baja Haha which will be listed below.

The Journey of the Flame by Fierro Blanco 1933…here is where his knowledge is derived …born in 1798 in Lower California and having seen three centuries change customs and manners, died alone in 1902 at the Great Cardon near Rosario Mexico…A truly fun read that takes you by the hand in explaining what really happened from the time the Padres landed and up until they were forced to leave by the Crown.

Books by Graham Macintosh…That bloomin’ Englishman what walked around Baja…among other things.
Into A Desert Place…a walk about Baja 1995 Singed by Author

Marooned with Very Little Beer This is the one where he shot a snake and half the folks came down on this head…I thought he did right. 2008

Saints and Demons in a Desert Wilderness by Dave Werschkul 2003…Signed by author…I have always felt that Dave did a wonderful job of breaking down many of the myths that surrounded the first white men in Baja. Unfortunately, He rubbed a couple of folks the wrong way. They felt it necessary to pan his work because it did not agree with what they felt to be the ‘correct’ history of Baja… Anyway a good Baja guy and a wonderful book.

Across the Wire by Luis Alberto Urrea 1993…Addresses the terrible things that occur out of sight along the Tijuana/San Diego Border…Really hard hitting and a must read for those who do not want to go through life with their heads under a rock.

The Forgotten Peninsula by Joseph W. Krutch 1961 Hardback some great pictures and well worth the read

God and Mr. Gomez by Jack Smith 1974 Hardback This little book became the Bible for how to and how not to build a home in Baja. Most people do not realize it but his wife ‘Denny’ is the one who pushed him each and every time he decided to give up their dreams. Baja Ladies should read this book with point of view ever in mind…she was quite a gal.
Jack was a writer for the LA Times and when my neighbor in Baja passed away she willed her copy of his book, well dog-eared, and it contained every one of his column written about Baja…No, that one. ain’t for sale but I do have a couple of paperback for sale...Also a paper back that came out in 1997 copyright by Denise Smith Trust.

Almost an Island, Travels in Baja California, by Bruce Berger 1999…A lot of people thought this was a great read…I did not feel the same way.

Baja Haha, Running Amok in Chilipepperland!, by Fred Hoctor. This is a true classic and it only gets funnier with each reading. Fred gave me a few pointers when I started to write my first book, Mi Baja No Hurry No Worry. He also told me several stories about political happenings in Baja that I could not use until after he and a bunch of Mexican officials passed away. Dave and Juanita of the Celito Linda Hotel in San Quentin told me a bunch of stories about Fred and Phil Harris, the Hollywood actor and if I ever get around to another book they will appear there.
I think I mentioned that Fred was the Fishing Editor for the Western Outdoor Magazine for years…He told me a bunch of stories about Ray Cannon

Land Where Time Stands Still by Max Miller 1943…A most interesting read and fairly hard to find…Book also contains Book Review by the New York Times dated April 11, 1943…Oh! The guy wrote I covered the Waterfront which was made into a movie

The Grinning Gargoyle Spills the Beans by JP, Jimmy Smith Jr. 2001 The old slinger of ink and teller of tall tales was also my very good friend. While he was visiting the VA hospital In La Jolla I took him a bunch of books and told him to autograph them because they would be worth a whole lot more when he died…He did and I sold a bunch of them signed and unsigned with the funds going to his widow in Las Barillas…One of the hardest things I have done is to take Jimmy and his daughter, Sara, to Rodriguez Airport for his last trip home.

Baja Legends by Greg Niemann 2002 Greg makes the characters of Baja come out of the closet and shows us just how folks really lived. Wonderful book

In the Shadow of the Volcano by Michael Humfreville 2006. Signed.
I don’t actually know why these words keep echoing in my head whenever I think of Mike but here they are…’Toward Comfort and Understanding’. That is, believe, where Mike and his family were going in life with the emphasis on Understanding. Mary Ann stood by her man and understood what he was attempting to accomplish. She and I have discussed this and I admire her very much.

The Other Side, Journeys in Baja California, by Judy Goldstein Boterllo 1998. Signed. What side is the other side…All I know is that she has captured the soul of the many folks with whom she had interacted

The Sea of Cortez, Mexico’s Primitive Frontier by Ray Cannon 1973 Ray was a Hollywood guy who came to Baja and almost singlehandedly brought Baja out of the tidewater and to the forefront of thinking by the adventurous souls who soon flocked to the Baja he wrote about. Never met the man but I did stay in the suite labeled Ray Cannon at the Solmar Hotel in Cabo…I wanted so badly to steal the Cannon ashtray. It remained in the room only because my wife was stronger than I.

The Baja Adventure Book by Walt Peterson 1992 Wonderful pictures and maps of the place we love

A Troubled Sea by Jinks Schwartz without a doubt one of the best books on the Sea of Cortez and the drugs being plied along its shores. Her depth of knowledge is unbelievable…This one is not for sale.

The Magnificent Peninsula, Mexico’s Baja by Jack Williams1986…Interesting pictures and maps...but I have never have had the time to read it.

Cruising the Sea of Cortez by Spencer Murray 1963 Never read it because my built in jealously of the sailing folks who could explore parts of Baja us land lubbers could not reach

Baja California Road Log by Connie Ellig & David Hopps, 1997 Fun!

The Baja Book by Tom Miller and Elmar Baxter 1974 First Baja Space maps etc.

Ensenada Summer 1950 You can’t believe the picture of fish landed…The add that always got my attention …Special cruise form Ensenada to Manzanillo…only $45.00 including meals…round trip 22 days

Baja California Bulletin…featuring a new “Roadguide”…By our own David Kier…let’s hear it for the kid…who has probably logged more miles in Baja than most of us old Guys.

Airports of Baja California by Arnold Senterfitt not dated but chased after by many Baja folks…Mostly obsolete because of the actions of the Mexican Military in closing air strips to control drugs.

Lapaz Guide, where to go and what to do…not dated but interesting

Las Californias Baja y Alta August 1962,,, Fun and interesting.

Auto Club Pamphlets’ for 1962,1963, 1974,1977, & 1985

Los Cabos Guide, no date but with much information on the area surrounding to area…Special note Page 69…Club Capilla, Jimmy Smith’s
Winnebago Barrio…Just love the man!

Jerry’s La Paz Guide that’s it!

Towns of Baja California by David Goldbaum 1918

Anza’a 1779 Comanche Campaign by Ron Kessler 2001 Really interesting if you care about how the Spanish ended up in Los Angles…I
sure was!

Mulege Baja California Sur,Mexico…probably the worst thing I have bought on Baja.

The Baja Book by Tom Miller and Elmar Baxter…
The Visitors Los Vistantes A visit to Una vista a Todos Santos by CM Mayo….I dislike her books immensely. She flaunts her Spanish and always talks down to her readers….Terrible!!! Did you get the idea that I disliked her writings? I had a few other of her books but made a small fire of them.

Glory Days of Baja by Larry Stanton 1996…A friend of mine and a Doctor who loves to hunt in Baja…For you hunting guys a must read.

In Few Words, A compendium of Latino Folk wit and Wisdom.1997 This a fun book to curl up to an evening fire and leave the world

Baja Outpost, the Guest Book from Patchins’s Cabin…Two very wonderful people who accomplished much in Baja…this book was not included.

…of Sea and Sand, a Drama of Two Living Deserts—by Bruce F. Barber 2003 signed.

An finally my three books—Mi Baja No Hurry No Worry—Bouncing Around Baja—THINK you know BAJA.
etween San Quentin and San Diego…much more comfortable than a stag

[Edited on 1-13-2013 by Baja Bernie]

Well done Bernie

John M - 1-12-2013 at 02:33 PM

The list of books, of course, not you Bernie!

I like the little personal touches of your description - truly a descriptive bibliography the contents of which belong in one's Baja library.

John M

shari - 1-12-2013 at 02:37 PM

Hola are you sir? Long time no hear amigo....I hope you are whale whisperer you!

DENNIS - 1-12-2013 at 03:03 PM

Hi Bernie....Great list including one that caught me by surprise:

"Baja California Road Log by Connie Ellig & David Hopps, 1997 Fun!"

I know Connie....and David not so well......and didn't even know she wrote this. I'll have to find a copy.

If you don't mind........there's another entry I would have included had the list been mine:

"That Baja Feeling" by Ben Hunter. I thought that was a good read.

Thanks For the list and I'll save it for reference.

BajaGuera - 1-12-2013 at 05:03 PM

"The Baja Feeling" by Ben Hunter is a good book (and it's on the list Dennis) Ben built his house in Ejido Chapultepec.(spelling it wrong here I know)

DENNIS - 1-12-2013 at 05:10 PM

Originally posted by BajaGuera
"The Baja Feeling" by Ben Hunter is a good book (and it's on the list Dennis) Ben built his house in Ejido Chapultepec.(spelling it wrong here I know)

Ohhh is. I went right by it. Thanks.

Nueva España? Wasn't that the housing development?

You're right. It's in Chapultepec

BajaGuera - 1-12-2013 at 06:52 PM

Yes Dennis that is it - I had a mental pause and knew it was Nueva...something.


Baja Bernie - 1-12-2013 at 07:21 PM

All of these books are for sale.

BajaBlanca - 1-13-2013 at 09:34 AM

one of my very favorite books, not listed, ENCHANTED VAGABONDS. written by Dana Lamb. the story of how he and his wife built a boat and traveled all around Baja and eventually ended up in Panama.

and the other book that is great for reading AS you travel down Baja is THE BAJA HIGHWAY by John Minch and Thomas Leslie. They call it " a geology and biology field guide for the Baja Traveler". I absolutely adore it.

Thank you Blanca

Baja Bernie - 1-13-2013 at 02:07 PM

We're thinking of a trip down your way...Info please

BajaBlanca - 1-13-2013 at 03:46 PM

sure !

highway 1 to PUNTA ABREOJOS exit (the first one after VIZCAINO)

once in abreojos, follow the asphalt to CALLE MIGUEL DOMINGUEZ, turn rt

follow the salt flats, always staying far to the rt, or east, away from water

once in la bocana, look for the church on the main square at end of asphalt

turn rt at church

first left, first right. look for 2 story white house - that is BAJA BOCANA B&B.

Please bring some books ! Gracias, Blanca

GregN - 1-14-2013 at 10:33 AM

Hi Bernie. Thanks for the nice mention of Baja Legends. I see I have all but three or four of those books in my library. In fact, thanks to Ben Hunter's fine book, we named our dog Taco.

BajaBlanca - 1-14-2013 at 02:58 PM

Bernie - I just lent your book to our neighbor Dick, so he could enjoy it.

GregN -we have your Baja Legends ! Really good read.

David K - 4-15-2013 at 03:06 PM

Bump up for a Nomad because of the mention of Casa Leree here, by Bernie.

Nomad 'Juanita' is the owner of Casa Leree, verdad?

KurtG - 4-15-2013 at 07:05 PM

I would add one more great Baja adventure tale: "Long Walk To Mulege" by Howard Hale. Two young WW1 veterans take a break from their studies at Berkeley in 1921 to walk from Ensenada to Mulege. An amazing adventure story.