Mex 3 – Road Construction a’la Baja

Traveling the highways of Baja are – well – different than driving stateside.  When a huge rock slide close off a section of Mex 1 – the main north/south artery that connects Tijuana with Cabo San Lucas, the locals got to work.  In the USA, next steps would be emergency vehicles, flashing red lights, and weeks of no passage.  In Baja, next steps are a couple of guys with pickup trucks and ropes who move the offending obstructions out of the way, followed by maybe a friend with a bulldozer pushing some of the dirt aside.  I.e., roads are the lifeline .. and the residents don’t wait for the government to fix things.

Mex 3 – a southern route from San Felipe along the western edge of the Sea of Cortez has long been an out-of-the-way route that that terminated at Mex 1 near Lake Chapala. Mostly rugged washboard miles with an occasional paved section that washed out during hurricanes, the road was merciless on tires, suspensions, and overall mechanics of vehicles.

During the last two decades, small fishing villages have given way to retirement homes for gringos from the states, and the road has become more popular.  Gonzaga Bay, originally a landing strip with fly-in homes, now sports an upgraded hotel and multiple restaurants.

In their continuing effort to enhance access to all parts Baja, the government has set about ambitious road development projects, and Mex 3 is one of them.  The included photographs illustrate the scope of this project, the fact that a little dirt never hurt an intrepid Baja traveler, and the vast beauty of the landscape.

Just as Mex 1 was a dream before it opened in 1972, Mex 3 will provide an alternative to the crowded western route.

Sister Cityhood Official!

ddc2f8f1-7dce-4b44-b496-304cbb8c266d On Monday, March 30, 2015, President Jorge Alberto Avilés Pérez of Loreto, Baja California Sur, received the “Keys to the City” of Ventura, California from Mayor Cheryl Heitmann, confirming the Sister City relationship between the two municipalities.  The formal ceremony, which took place in the historic Ventura City Hall, included the reading of a proclamation, declaring the relationship between The City of San Buenaventura, California and The City of Loreto, Baja California Sur, “To encourage bi-national promotion of conservation, education, social entrepreneurship and cultural exchange between its citizens and governments in support of the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto and Channel Islands Sister Park Project.”

President Avilés thanked the people of the City of Ventura for the distinction of Sisterhood with the City of Loreto.  In a short speech, President Avilés remarked that, “Ventura and Loreto are two cities that have in common historical and geographical perspective and the mutual desire to develop appropriate strategies to support conservation and restoration of biodiversity in the respective territories and to continue to work for the mutual good of our sister cities.”

This solidified relationship provides the opportunity, “to work in coordination with the institutions concerned to protect and conserve our environment,” continued Sr. Avilés.  The Sister City connection furthers a move toward confirmation of Sister Park/Sister Reserve between the Channel Islands National Park and The Bay of Loreto National Park.

Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. spearheaded the possibilities of the Park inter-relationship, as well as Sister City status, and has served both as facilitator and coordinator of the programs in a close working relationship with the Channel Islands National Park and the City of Ventura.  When completed, the Sister Park/Reserve relationship will provide for the exchange of best-science practices, park resource management and enhanced Sister City economies associated with eco-tourism programs including unique cultural exchanges.

President Avilés was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Nancy Saldaña Cuevas, Tony and Linda Kinninger co-founders with Hugo Quintero Maldonado of Eco-Alianza, Marla Daily and Kirk Connally, of Santa Cruz Island Foundation and Terra Marine Research & Education, Inc., and Norma Garcia, the  representative of the Loreto Sister Cities committee and a member of the Board of Directors of Eco-Alianza.

The day after the ceremonies, Mayor Heitmann and the contingency from Loreto enjoyed a boat tour to Santa Cruz Island, hosted by Island Packers, where they routed the University of California Research Field Station facilities with an inland Jeep tour.  Following lunch, the group boarded a small plane for an aerial tour of the Channel Islands and a flight back to the Camarillo airport.  That following evening, the Sister Cities committees met at City Hall to begin planning first steps.  Mayor Heitmann lead the meeting with introductions, short presentations and a Q & A for all those attending.

Eco-Alianza would like to thank all those involved for making this first step both a success and a reality.  Special thanks goes to Russell Galipeau, Superintendent of the Channel islands National Park, Kate Faulkner, Chief, Natural Resources Management, CINP, Yvonne Menard, Chief of Interpretation, CINP, and most especially to Mayor Cheryl Heitmann for organizing this first meeting of the Sister Cities and for making the Loreto delegation feel so welcome in their beautiful city.  We look forward with great anticipation to the benefits of the Sister City relationship that is key to both the proposed Channel Islands National Park and Parque Nacional de Loreto Sister Park status.

For more photos:  http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3944dc3c25cd857ae00391bf1&id=2b15e7c8e4

pre-dawn ….

Sunrise, Loreto 21 January 2015

Sunrise, Loreto – 21 January 2015

roosters crow in the distance … so blessed to be in space where i can hear their call to morning

dogs begin their own conversation one house to the next .. a woof/bark that reaches all the way to Buster, who adds his voice to the symphony of canine expression

in the hour before light, each sound echos across the flat basin that flows to the sea from the foot of the sierra

i hear the chatter of early beach walkers, their figures shrouded in the dark,  their voices announcing their presence before i can make out their shadowy forms .. girl talk, boy talk, start the day talk.

the crunch of footsteps on the gravelly sand – the neighbors and their dogs out for morning ‘duties’

pre-sunrise light paints the sea and the sky with corals, periwinkle blues, deep reds and brilliant yellow gold

a pelican splashes

the wind begins to ruffle the surface of the tranquil sea

a cruise ship waits to unload their guests for an exploration of our small town of Loreto.

morning. wednesday. for those of us with breath, we begin again.

The Track of Hurricane Odile

Horricane Odile's Track up  the Spine of Baja

Horricane Odile’s Track up the Spine of Baja

I am a storm watcher/lover .. but this one, Odile, may be hard to love. While I’ve been stateside for the duration, my heart and energies have been focused on Baja – the long skinny peninsula that is my second home.

Odile – as you can see from the graphic – drove straight up the spine of Baja and has been called ‘the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Baja’. Her track was unusual – the bulk of her interaction with land was on top of land, not at sea. She maintained hurricane status for the bulk of her journey. The desert cannot absorb rain when it comes too hard and too fast, and rushes down canyons and flashes out arroyos to the sea. And then there was the wind …

Power is out. Phones are down. The early photographs of Cabo show horrible damages – and to a city that has a very substantial infrastructure and in new construction, modern building codes. The rest of the Baja – maybe not so.

It’s horrible not knowing what happened to my neighbors and the town. One video shot from the top of the Mission Hotel shows waves breaking on to of the malecon. I can only imagine that the streetfront businesses had minor to major flooding.

A brief cell phone call late yesterday afternoon from my next door neighbor – how it got through I have no idea – said that her house was totally flooded from the horizontal rain – that she’d gone through all the towels – wrung them out – and the water was still coming in. Her fans had been ripped off – and then she had to go. No power to recharge her one lifeline to the outside world.

Loreto was hard hit – that’s obvious from the storm track and early reports before power was cut. But Loreto, too, has a decent infrastructure – and some of the most resilient people I have ever known. All of Baja for that matter. Shovels, mops, bulldozers will be hard at work before the rain drizzles have stopped.

The most pressing issue will be the roads and flash flooding that Odile has likely caused. Mex One is the lifeblood of the peninsula and trucking of supplies has the one route north and south. Unlike the states, when the roads was out, everyone that is able jumps into help. Tractors tow semi-trucks through washing and mud-laden arroyos. Boulders get moved off the road. New paths are created around obstacles. There is no shutting down the highway for months while surveyors decide what to do and budgets have to be settled and contracts awarded. Nope. Just get on with getting on and move people and goods. Detailed repairs will happen later.

This morning, all prayers to those who lost homes, autos – whatever Odile threw at them. And hopes that hands together, a speedy recovery can be made.

And then .. there is the next storm.  Really? Polo? Please please head west …….

Seriously – Another Hurricane?

Hurricane Odile - Cat 4

Hurricane Odile – Cat 4

“Odile” is the latest in a string of late-season hurricanes with similar paths – off the west coast of Baja. But each one seems to have been moving slightly closer to land – and Odile looks as he he’ll skim the coastline, wreaking havoc with winds and rain. On Sunday morning, the storm has already intensified to a Category 4 – a “major and dangerous hurricane” – with sustained winds at 135mph and gusts up to 160mph. Batten the hatches. Put up the storm shutters and bring all the patio furniture inside.

Even in their fury, the storms seen from satellite are mesmerizing.