Tag Archives: desert

It’s Oh So Green!

12 Oct

Well, now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and relax for a moment it’s time to sit down and tell you all about the last month.

 

We left Penticton in the first week in September after rushing around trying to make sure we had everything we needed. Obviously we didn’t because we then spent the next 2 weeks on Vancouver Island doing the same thing interspersed with visiting our daughter Liz, her husband Adrian and our 2 wonderful grandchildren, as well as everyone else we could. I even took the time to attend a High School reunion. We had set the date of departure at September 24th and come hell or high water we were leaving then, so we did!

 

We decided to travel the coast road down through the US,  and despite a few days of fog, the weather was fabulous. We meandered a bit and then when we reached the beaches of San Simeon, where the Elephant seals have recently colonized, we turned inland to the I-5. From that point it took us 1 day of travel to reach our favourite stopping point in Baja, San Quintin, where we always stay for 2 nights just to relax and enjoy the endless sandy beaches as well as one of our favourite treats, Stone Crab claws, purchased direct from the fishermen’s boat that lands right in front of our campsite.

 

This is what our campsite usually looks like, at least for the last few years.

One more day and we hit Loreto. Yep, that means we were travelling fast, but we figured we might as well get the trip over with and find out what awaited us. On our way down we had noticed the greenery and the closer we got to the beach the more we saw. When we arrived it was 38c with a humidity level of 85 percent and apparently had rained only a couple of days before. The last hurricane of the season had been downgraded to a tropical storm but still managed to dump a large amount of water, enough that there was huge standing puddles everywhere. Apparently this year, the rainy season actually was, unlike the last 5.

 

This is what it looked like when we arrived this year!

When I say the desert had bloomed, I kid you not. None of us have ever seen the surrounding area so lush, thick and verdant! The land was covered in greenery, lots of it so thick that you could no longer see roads or trails and the bug life was phenomenal! Thousands of butterflies and moths, some the size of your hand and billions of tiny insects so small it was impossible to tell what exactly they were.

 

There are bugs here we have never seen before and some I’d like to never see again! It’s incredibly creepy to see the tree you camp under covered from top to bottom with squirming, black, inch worm type things that appear at dusk and then disappear in the early morning. I can’t say that the biting insects are very bad but if you’re out at dawn or dusk it’s a good idea to wear some insect repellant to keep the mossies at bay!

 

We were a bit nervous about the Grummy when we arrived since we had left in such a hurry and didn’t really know how well she had weathered the long, hot, wet summer. Upon opening the door, it was obvious that she had done OK. Richard had left one of the skylights cracked a bit and the screen had fallen in, but it was clean and dry and except for a rather large spider which had gotten in and made herself at home, (and who was summarily removed from this life) things were looking good until we opened the door of the fridge. Because Grummy uses solar power we had left the fridge turned on low, so that the system could cycle, however sometime since we left, the fridge had ceased to function and everything in it had gone bad. Did you know that really rancid butter turns a very vivid shade of red? Neither did I.

 

Last year, you could see for miles in all directions!

So began the tossing out of everything in it, not to mention all the foods we had stockpiled to bring home that had long since reached their expiry dates. Not everything needed to be tossed, but growing up I was taught never to waste food and I have to tell you that throwing out all that stuff gave me few bad turns.

 

Then it was time to turn the motor over and get her to the beach. That wasn’t happening either since the battery that runs the motor had died. It required a little exchange of batteries from one vehicle to the other and hey, presto we had mobility. Off to the beach!

 

After navigating a road that had been ravaged by all the rain and the formation of new and ever changing arroyos we made it to our site, only to discover that it was completely covered in weeds 3 feet deep! It took us all of one day, both of us working in extreme heat to make a space for Grummy. Since them it’s been a continuing program, get up at 6 AM, weed the surrounding area to make space for our van and car, get the campsite set up and attempt to get the fridge fixed.

 

The fridge was actually pretty easy as the man who runs the nearby convenience store, the Modelorama, is a friend and he knew the right person to call.  Hopefully that issue will be resolved in a few more days! Since we now have a propane fridge in the little Dodge van, “Rosie” and a cooler full of ice it’s not been too big of a problem.

 

The biggest problem has been remembering where everything is, and how it all works. Yeah, I can hear you all now saying what’s the big deal, but let me tell you having a 6-month hiatus from everything in the Grummy, it’s taken us a week to remember where we stored everything. Even now we keep remembering things we put away and have to stop and figure out if they are in Grummy, Rosie, our kayak that’s still sitting in storage in Loreto, or at Richard’s Dad’s place.

 

As the temperature and the humidity levels have slowly declined, down to a more reasonable 30c and 40 percent, we have spent our time removing the weeds near our campsite, as that keeps the bugs at bay, working to fix the road, so the bigger rigs coming in behind us would have an easier time getting in to the beach, and fixing new screens for the skylights. Not to mention putting up the shade screens, raking the beach of all the debris left by the summer storms, drinking vast amounts of water, and the occasional cold beer. (Thanks to the ice in the cooler, which needs to be replaced every day. I told you it was hot!)  Oh, and swimming, to get rid of the sand that sticks like glue to hot sweaty bodies! Yeah, I know it’s a tough life.

 

Yesterday, most of the regulars arrived and it’s starting to feel like the old neighbourhood again. Most of the hard work is done, with a few jobs that can be left for a future time and now we can relax, and recreate.

 

Hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving, we were so busy down here we actually didn’t remember until a couple of days later, but then on the other hand we give thanks every day that we can continue to go south every winter and enjoy the life we lead.

 

To all our family, we love you and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t think of you and wish you could be here with us! Just remember we now have a spare room, and we’re always up for company!

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Sunrise, Sunset

22 Jan

 

One of the things that those who travel to southern climes find the most difficult to convey to their otherwise appreciative audiences is the colours. I know that sounds very odd, but let me give you an example. On our first trip to Baja, we stayed at an absolutely beautiful beach called Ensenada Blanca, (White Cove). Our neighbours were a young artist and his wife, who travelled Mexico so that he could paint postcard size pictures of all the places they saw. He told us that his work sold well, but the biggest complaint he got from his customers was that he had obviously over emphasized the colours. People just wouldn’t believe that what he was painting were the actual colours he was seeing.

 

It probably has something to do with the difference in light refraction as one moves closer to the equator, maybe it also has to do with the desert and reflected light, I don’t really know, this is a science that I’m way out of my depth on. What I do know is that everything here, whether it’s natural or man-made has a colour vibrancy to it that doesn’t seem to exist in the cooler climes.

This seems to be true all over the world, Greece is full of bright colours, and England is not. The hotter the country, the brighter the colours. Hmm, the same can be said for the food, but that’s another story.

 

You’ve seen the colours I painted the interior of Grummy, well these simply reflect what I find myself surrounded by here every day. The homes in all the villages are a riot of every colour imaginable, the native clothing, (though that is slowly being replaced with “made in China” cheap crap, just like everywhere else) is the same with intricate, primary colours embroidered on creamy white cotton. Even the plant life, especially the Bougainvillea that grows everywhere, explodes with bright, vivid, zest.

Nature herself sets the example, with sunrises and sunsets. Sure I know these occur everywhere on earth, but down here they are so spectacular that we often have “Alerts”. This is when someone is so moved by what they see they call on the VHF radio to let everyone know that Nature is painting a new spectacular.

 

I’m pretty sure if I checked, I’d find that just about everyone who lives here or visits regularly, probably have hundreds of sunrise and sunset photos. I know of a couple of people who have albums that contain nothing but. Plus Nature never repeats herself, so each picture is a masterpiece of creation.

 

I have to admit, that the view we have is one many would pay a great deal of money for, but when I add in the palette of colour that nature uses to paint the mornings and evenings with, it takes my breath away. It makes me feel as if I have been given a glimpse into the awesome complexity of the infinite universe, yet at the same time makes me feel very, very insignificant. This is an almost impossible concept to explain, and photos really don’t show what the eye actually sees, but it’s all we have.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll simply let these photos speak for me. Perhaps it will give you a tiny glimpse into the desolate beauty of the Baja.

If you enjoy them let me know, I’ve got lots to share. Not only that but there’s lots of room down here on Rattlesnake Beach and all are welcome!

The Illusion of Time

1 Jun

Out on a drive today, on our way to return a borrowed item, we started to talk about how much time we had left up here and how it should be parcelled out. Wow, who knew how busy our lives would become, after we retired!

Yeah, I know how trite that sounds. You’ve heard it said on a thousand ads aimed at the retired crowd in hopes of separating them from some of their money. But it seems, in our case to be true, even when we strive to reach the exact opposite. Life conspires against us, or so it seems. Or maybe it’s just our desire to spend as much time as possible with each of our daughters and their families.

Just another Island lake.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Island, most of the people I love  live there.  It’s beyond beautiful. I just can’t take the climate anymore. It rains a lot, that’s why it’s so verdant and green. It’s also cold; coastal influence, you know. This makes me sad as I grew up and spent the better part of my adult life on the waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean, but when I say I can’t stand the cold anymore I mean it. If the temperature drops below  21C or 72F and the air is damp, I start to seize up and suffer from pain in my joints. Hence the reason why Baja was a no brainer when it came to where to spend our winters. The problem comes with where to spend our summers and what to do while we’re back in Canada.

Me, back in my working days.

I miss not seeing views like this regularly anymore!

Our kids and their families are very important to us and we want to spend as much time with each one as we can, but therein lies the problem. One lives on Vancouver Island, in the temperate rain forest, the other lives in Penticton, an arid, fruit growing area, in the desert interior of BC, about 400 km from the island. Plus it requires a ferry ride every time we wish to get on or off the island. A not inexpensive ferry ride, especially when we’re towing the dingy.

Our doctor also lives on the island, so we spend a lot of time going back and forth, visiting with our relatives and friends and lately, seeing the doctor a little more often as minor and a few major medical problems have crept up, lo these last couple of years.

We also eventually, go a little stir crazy. We’re used to being on our own a lot, way down the path less travelled, so getting back to civilization,  all the people and noise start to wear after a while and we need to get away. A couple of years ago, it was a trip around Alberta, this year we’re heading to the Arlington Air Show, just south of the border in Washington State. That’s after I go to the island for 2 weeks to help my youngest daughter while her husband is at a conference, get a medical test done, see my doctor, visit with my sister and maybe get up island to see a few friends. Then back to Penticton, where Richard will be in the process of building a wooden privacy fence along the back of the kids yard.

Some of the land around Penticton

We will then get into Grummy and head back over to the island again so Richard can have a visit with everyone, then back to Penticton as it’s easier to get to Arlington from there.

While we’re doing all this to and froing, there are repairs to the Grummy and our little Asuna that must be undertaken, plus re-provisioning of supplies and spare parts that we can’t get in Mexico. There are jobs we undertake for the kids, that they don’t have the time or expertise to do, as well as babysit once in a while to give the kids a night out, alone. Add in when we light out on our own for a while, and the time seems to fly. There never seems to be enough to go around before we realize it’s time to start thinking about heading south again.

According to Einstein’s  Theory of Relativity, the passage of time in a faster moving reference frame is slower than the passage of time in a slower moving reference frame. That means that if you were standing on the event horizon of a black hole, even though movement of energy is tremendously fast, time for you would be passing very slowly. Now I don’t have the qualifications to argue with Einstein, but it always feels to us as if the exact opposite were true. Time spent in civilization where everyone seems to be moving at the speed of light, moves so fast for us, that we feel like we’ve only just arrived somewhere, when it’s time to leave again. Time spent on the beach in Baja, where civilization such as we know it seems to be a million miles away, slides by  so slowly  that when it’s  time to leave, it almost comes as a surprise.