Thursday, July 19, 2012

This is Where it All Began - Punta San Carlos, Baja

After a 5 years hiatus, we are finally back at Punta San Carlos (PSC). We started vacationing at PSC in 2000 when we took an epic road trip from Portland to PSC for a 2 week holiday.  We drove 6 of the 14 days, but in the end, it was all worth it. This place is where we learned about the possibility of a simple, adventure-filled life.  I think it was in 2003 when I said to Scott, "I want to do this all the time, not just for a few weeks of the year".  Back then, it really never occurred to me that we could make it happen.  The transformation happened slowly, but by 2009 we were done with the old life, and my 2003 dream had come true.

Our AstroTurf shanty town (2000)
Last night, during our happy hour chat with friends, Frank and Kim, we joked about the "early days" of San Carlos for all of us.  Frank talked about how he used to come here (starting 20 years ago) and camp in the back of his pickup.  He would take "showers" by heating up a pot of water and pouring it over his head in the cold, windy evening after windsurfing.  PSC is not a pleasant place to camp.  The wind often blows 20-30 mph all day and sometimes through the night.  Scott and I had a similarly simple setup during the first couple years.  Showering in the cold/wind was always a bit of a hassle, and trying to keep everything you owned from getting coated in dust and dirt was impossible.  Kim described her early days as a constant fight to keep her tarps from ripping due to all the flapping in the wind.  Frank and Kim met in San Carlos and 3 years ago got married.  Obviously, PSC has had a very serious impact on their lives as well.

Showers are no longer a hassle for any of us.  We are now setup in a downright posh situation. Our campers have refrigeration, hot showers, and solar power.  As an added bonus, Bill, who is currently parked next to us, shares his satelite internet with the few campers who are here.  My how things have changed.  Bill bought our old van 5 years ago when we were moving out of the country.  It was quite fun to have a look at our old adventure van.  He camps here 5 months of the year so the old van has a lot more rust on it than it did in 2008.  The old van is the one we lived in during our 2003, 1-year adventure around North America.

Bill's van (our old one) with his pimped-out satellite system.  Frank and Kim's posh a-frame trailer.
Based on what I've said so far, you may wonder what's so special about PSC.  Many would say PSC has the most perfect windsurfing wave in the world.  I'm sure there are better, but this place has an epic combination of wind and waves that can't be easily found. At the moment, other campers include a guy from Norway, Japan, and a couple from France. When it's not windy, we can mountain bike, surf, paddleboard, or fish.  As a bonus, there are tons of little seals that are particularly curious about the surfing/paddleboarding/kiting humans in their water.

The cliff never seemed like a problem,
until we got into kiteboarding
This year, we only have kiteboarding gear (vs. windsurfing), so PSC is a new challenge for us.  There is hardly any beach, so trying to launch/land a kite below or above a 20 foot cliff still scares the hell out of us.  In fact, if we want to launch the kite on the beach, we are limited by the tides .  If the tide is too high, we don't kite.  The wind is slightly offshore so if something goes wrong, you can't easily swim to shore against the wind.  The local fisherman charge $50-75 to rescue you or your gear. For these reasons, we're limiting our first kite-trip to PSC to 2 weeks. If things go well, we'll come back for a longer stay in September and October.

PSC 2012
El Tigre, Bill, Frank/Kim, and a Gium/Laticia (right to left)


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heading North from San Jose del Cabo

As previously mentioned, we finally departed the East Cape of Baja after nearly 6 months of playing in the waters of the Sea of Cortez.  The "East Cape" refers to the bulge of land northeast of Cabo at the southern tip of Baja.  As we started our drive north we camped at a few beaches on the Pacific side (San Pedrito, La Pastora and El Canejo) where the air and water temperature were at least 10 - 20F lower than the Sea of Cortez side.  This was a good thing as the daytime temperatures were definitely creeping towards 100F down in the Cabo area.

After driving inland north of La Paz, the highway heads back to the Sea of Cortez where we spent some really hot nights at Juncalito Beach and San Lucas Cove south of Santa Rosalia.

Our first stop on the hot Sea of Cortez side, was Juncalito beach. The views here are fantastic.  The backdrop to the beach are gigantic mountains (aptly named "La Giganta") while the view across the water is similarly pleasant.  We stayed here on Father's Day which turns out to be a huge day of partying on the beach for mom, dad, and the kids.  We later learned from our new amigos at San Lucas Cove (see below) that Father's Day often times causes "cabeza grande".  I think my dad used to call it "football head" - that certain headache you get after a long day of football Saturday drinking.

La Giganta mountains behind Heather and Scott fishing at Juncalito beach

Clam ceviche served in it's own shell
Our stop at San Lucas Cove was a last minute decision that turned out to be interesting but definitely not worth it.  Our camping spot was on a defunct, sketchy campground where we thought we could at least camp for free (no toilets, no water, etc.).  We didn't fall asleep until at least 4 am because it was so hot.   That morning at 7:30 am, some random lady from the RV park next door came over to collect 100 pesos (!!) for camping.  She WOKE us up with annoying, endless yells of "hola, buenos dias, hola, buenos dias, hola (and on and on)". Neither of us were awake enough to object, so we handed over the money and tried to get at least an hour more of sleep.  In the big scheme of things, $8 for camping isn't a big deal but we have been in some amazing locations for the past 7 months and haven't had to pay a dime.  I guess we are getting spoiled.  So, for the interesting part of San Lucas Cove...  As soon as we arrived, a local Mexican invited us next door to his friends' house to eat fresh clam ceviche.  He shucked the clams, squirted some lime juice on them, which caused them to squirm a bit, and then we ate them with saltines and hot sauce.  Really, really tasty.  You will notice in the picture, Scott was enjoying it so much, he couldn't keep his mouth empty long enough for a picture.  It's during these moments where I'm reminded of our horrible Spanish.  I really need to pick up the pace on learning some better Spanish.

Scott with his new amigos (with a face full of clams)
We are now on the Pacific side and won't head back to the Sea of Cortez until the end of October as it's very hot and getting hotter.