Loki Look Out

At the edge of the Pacific, I am washed in my own personal solace. The heaviness of the larger world slips away and I am able to breathe. Loki, my silly sweet Australian Cobberdog, seems to be getting a taste. Or maybe he’s simply looking for lizards, or whales, or another dog passing that might be a playmate. His long legs balanced atop the wall, I love watching the search all that spreads before him.

My passion for the Pacific originated in my teens, when the beach became a refuge, bearing both a sandy towel or game of hearts, and a canvas mat or surfboard on a wave. When friends piled up in long summer days, the air perfumed with coconut oil and tuna fish sandwiches with lemonade and potato chips. When the long pause in and/or near the water could quell disquieted thoughts. Where family troubles or teen angst vanished.

Something in the persistence of the horizon. That deep cerulean blue line.

I laughingly say that my skin gets itchy if I’m more than 20 miles from the ocean, and when I get within 10, I can scent the pungent seaweeds and tossed shell fragments, as if carried on a particular air current designed for me. I climb back into my skin, my watery alter-self contented with the proximity.

When I’m immersed in the water, my body feels as if it is 12 years old. The aging muscles and bones suddenly young again. The exquisite weightlessness, the dolphin-like quality. The freedom. The fluidity.

Wallace J Nichols writes about the positive impact of the ocean on the human species. His award winning book, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do explores exactly what the title promises. Decades ago, a scientist friend said that ocean air bathes the body in negative ions, which in contrast to their name, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the human psyche.

I no longer understand cities or their draw, and am sure that Loki has caught my ‘crowd allergy’ as he stares out and searches. Ah .. there .. an osprey with a fish. Ah .. there .. a pelican diving. Ah .. there … the chatter of a cactus wren, the slither of a lizard, the float of a cloud. Free from high-rises, traffic jams with road rage, sniper shootings …. We are out here on the edge, Loki and I, building a space where our thoughts are not boxed and our creativity flourishes.

beauty where we find it …..

Baja : Pacific Morning

For the uninitiated, there is little that can be said to fully express the beauty of Baja California Sur.  From the moment one leaves the populations of Colonet & San Quintin, makes a requisite gas stop in El Rosario, and heads into the heart of undeveloped land of cardon, bojum, cholla, poloverde, cirrius and more …  the heart slows, the shoulders drop, and the mind begins to embrace again that primal space of undeveloped land.

Mex One zigzags across the peninsula in undulating rhythms, following for the greater part, the easiest passage through rough terrain.  That translates to switchbacks, mountain climbs and descents, and arroyo crossings.  Wide plains, dry lakes and craggy rock piles – the spewn evidence of long-ago volcanoes litter the landscape.  I’ve stopped counting the trips. I never fail to be inspired.  I am always stunned by her beauty.

For those who are afraid to travel, I am sorry.  So much the greater landscape and less crowded roads for me.  While the horrors of the drug cartels are not to be ignored, the city streets of any major metropolitan area has its own body and assault count.  I feel safer in my home in Loreto than I ever did in the states.

The Pacific side teases with waves that follow distant swells.  Spots like the Wall, Shipwrecks, the local spots of Ensenada .. and of course, Pescadero, Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas beckon surfers from across the globe.

The east coast, the beautiful bountiful Sea of Cortez, is filled with dolphin, sea turtles, fish of every color and size, rays and whales – blue, pilot, fin and orca.  Sunrises, sunsets .. kayaking, paddling, surfing, hiking, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling .. exploring ..  magic.  To be with and surrounded by such beauty is to me – pure magic.
And then there are the people – beautiful kind warm family loving folks.

Food!  Beverages!  Music!  Dancing!  Camping under stars and/or a full moon. Yes : Baja : I love and dream of you always.

Hilary pushing a lot of water …..

Hurricane Hilary appears on track to leave most of Baja alone – unless she turns north early.  In which case, winds and heavy rains could batter portions of Baja that have seen no significant rain in over a year.  Surf won’t be particularly wonderful – onshore winds and tight spacing between swells … Oh, those magical powerful forces of nature that we have only the power to observe.

Hurricane Hilary

southward bound

Gads .. Have I really been ‘north’ for over two months?  A 10 day road trip turned into 5 weeks!  Guess I was having a good time 🙂

Cobb Mansion

Started out in Virginia City at the Cobb Mansion, owned by Jeff & Paul (buddies from Loreto).  Friend Carol (used to be from Loreto) flew in from her new home in Austin and we partied and took in the sights for four days.  Met new friends, got to hang out with Lacy J. Dalton, and wandered around Virginia City.

Next stop : Idaho.  My sister Claudia lives in Bellevue, and friend Cynthia (from San Juanico) has a summer home in Hailey.  Buster got reunited with his Baja dog buddies, Pancho and Chica, and Cynthia I had some fine hikes in the Sun Valley area.  Even took in an outdoor symphony!

Buster and Claudia : Silver Creek Float

Claudia and husband Jimmy kept saying ‘stay’ .. so I did.  Jimmy took us flying, Claudia and I floated Silver Creek in their canoe, we took the canoe up to Petit Lake and paddled in ferocious winds (reminder : Jimmy : get another lightweight paddle!), took more dog walks, and then took the big boat out to Magic Reservoir and fished, swam, lunched and laughed.  Alan, from Laguna Beach, showed up in his RV with his kids in the midst of their summer drive.  He and daughter, Lili, joined Claudia, Denise (a Laguna Beach girl from way back) at Z – a sushi spot that has killer rolls.

It was hard to leave sunny Idaho – but I had a bug to go and visit Lila and Diedre in Bandon, and Buster and I took off on small roads, large roads, any roads .. exploring the eastern section of Oregon.  Beautiful country.  We stayed in Bend, drove to and sort of around Crater Lake, and on to the Oregon Coast.

Since I hadn’t planned on Oregon, I’d left surfboards, paddleboards and wetsuits at home. BIG MISTAKE!  There was surf, rivers to paddle and just good fun that next trip, I’ll be sure to be better prepared.

In Bandon, I ran into Norm, who spends his winter’s kite surfing and/or surfing surfing in Baja. Such fun to see friends I know from Mex in out of the way corners of the USA.

I missed ‘home’ .. I didn’t miss the overwhelming heat that blanked the peninsula this summer.  There was one day when the heat index was 135°.  Okay, that might not be quite human!

Glad to be heading south this week.  Can’t wait for whatever surprises wait for me. Time to touch that magical Sea of Cortez.

Chef Jimmy Surfs Scorpion Bay

Not only can my good friend Jimmy surf, but he’s one hell of a cook – excuse me – make that chef. Notice the title with his name. For more information on his skill set, and his killer MOJO product line, click here : http://www.chefjimmy.com/

Shipwreck’s North

Shipwrecks or Freighters

Skunked, but stoked to be introduced to a new spot. Drake Harris & Pat Harrington let me tag on their surf journey and showed me a few spots for future trips south in Baja. While we didn’t get waves, I did get some shots. The fact that this aging freighter has never been taken apart is enough of a surprise. When you arrive, you for sure know that you didn’t just wander down a random dirt road. When it breaks, it’s a good right that flies past the remains of the ship.

One Half of the Freighter

In the past, car/tent camping was about the only option at Shipwrecks, but in recent years, Baja Surf Adventures has opened a small camp. Described as a great place for beginners, there are men’s/women’s restrooms, surf lessons are available, and meals are included. For more information, www.bajasurfadventures.com

The Bigger Half of the Freighter

Wide Bay : Long Ride Potential

Pat Humphrey & Drake Harris : Road Trip