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El Tortuguero

Posted on September 25, 2014 by 5 Comments

It was our first evening at the casita and we walked to the beach to catch a phenomenal sunset. We thoroughly lucked out in that there was a turtle sanctuary right across the sand dunes. This was the first night of the turtle release.  I explained that we would like to help, and they told us to come back the next evening. We did, and we kept coming nearly every night.

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Grupo Tortuguero de Todos Santos A.C. is a family-run labor of love. Enedino (dad) has been collecting eggs and releasing turtles for 15 years. He’s a science teacher, and veterinarian. His son, Dario just got his degree in Marine Biology.

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With no regular funding, these guys completely rely on donations. The sanctuary must be moved each year to another location on the beach. The shelter is rudimentary, and a few more posts and shading only goes up when they get a donation.

But, every night from about 2 in the morning til 7 a.m., Endino, Dario or one of a handful of other volunteers search the beaches on a 4-wheeler and bring back the nests. The eggs are carefully counted, buried and information recorded on wooden markers that stick up out of the sand.

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Exactly 45 days later, the eggs hatch. Before sunset, we arrive and dig up the nests, sorting baby turtles into those that have hatched, those that are still hatching, the dead, and the eggs that won’t hatch. Everything is recorded and then the little guys are set free near the ocean. The get tumbled and turned over, and usually pushed back several meters by the big waves before finally making it into the sea and swimming away.  Then, we work on the structure until dark.

Each morning, I go back at 8 and 10 and check for turtles that have surfaced from their nests on their own and release them.

Occasionally, there are some tourists that come to watch and help with the release. I love seeing the joy in their faces as it reminds me of the first night I volunteered.

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Baby turtles and sunsets on the beach. Not too shabby.

 

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Filed Under: Baja

What’s the Big Odile

Posted on September 23, 2014 by 3 Comments

This was the blog post I wrote the day after Hurricane Odile hit. We lost power and internet, so I never published it.

Everyone in town was hoping that Hurricane Odile would change directions and head west, as Hurricane Norbert did last week. We had gone in to town the day before it was to hit and got more ice and water, made sure the gas tank was full. As usual, we seemed to be the only ones concerned.

Last week, someone had come by to say that there would only be strong winds during Norbert, and that we didn’t even need to put away the patio furniture. This weekend, we watched the radar and knew Odile was going to be bigger. The problem with southern Baja is that it is only about an hour’s drive across. We thought about going to Cabo, but that was where the storm was heading. We thought about going to La Paz, but we warned that La Paz always floods, and usually with raw sewage.

We also got an invitation to go stay with some people we just met that lived nearby, but on higher ground. So, that was our conundrum on Sunday morning.

But, the house we are staying in is a concrete rectangle. No windows, but several glass doors on one side with metal slated door over them. So, despite being close to the beach, we are behind sand dunes, and can generally deal with the wind. Our concern at this point was water and storm surge. Our neighbor assured us that our location didn’t get storm surges. So, we tucked the bus into the most protected area we could find against the house, and sat back and waited.

Sunday was a long day. It was calm and quiet. We had electricity and internet, so we wasted the day waiting. And watching the weather. Around sunset, we walked out to the beach to watch the waves. We wandered over to the turtle nests and found a bunch that had hatched. So, we set them free, wishing them the best in the big waves.

Then, we went home and stayed up until the electricity went out about 7:30.

We slept for a couple of hours before the wind made that impossible. Reports are it was blowing 135 mph. The rain didn’t come until about midnight, but it was torrential. Our skylights (3) leaked and water came through all the doors from underneath. Eventually, water from our flat roof started coming in through some of the walls. Jason and I mopped, and placed towels at the doors. The wind made sounds like I’ve never heard. Bode was scared, but I was able to get him back to sleep, his fingers in his ears and curled up in a tight ball.

The loud sounds, the wind, objects hitting the sliding glass doors (luckily small objects as they had to first go through the metal doors) continued on and on. Jason was still able to track the storm from his phone, but that didn’t really tell us how long it would last.

It seemed like the night went on forever, lots of mopping, lots of worry. But sometime right before sunrise, it got a bit quieter and we were able to catch another hour of sleep.

By daybreak, the wind was still too strong to go outside. I got a text from the friends who had offered their place, they were okay, but their house was flooded, all their trees had come down, as well as a power line on their car and house.

We could see that it was flooded outside, but we were okay inside. When I finally made it out in the wind, I went to check on Red Beard, who was wheel-high in water with a comically dangling license plate.

The million dollar glass house in front of ours is completely destroyed.

The neighbors came out, the water started to recede and for some reason my phone was still working, so everyone was able to make a shaky call to let loved ones know that they were okay.

Our road is blocked with downed trees, and some power lines so we can’t get out by car. Jason and our neighbor walked to town. Folks were driving out of town with pick up trucks full of all their belongings. Roofs are off, glass is everywhere. The power company building was actually one of the worst hit – it’s roof is entirely missing. Oddly, we could cell service for a few hours, but then it went out after the winds died down. So, we don’t know when we’ll get electricity, internet or water. We don’t know when we can drive anywhere. We are all fine, and lucky at that. No real damage to our things or the house we are staying in.

All information we get is hearsay, so we don’t know the truth to anything. We’ve heard it may be several weeks before there is electricity (and water). So, for now we are waiting for more info. We can’t go anywhere anyway.

 

You can help the families affected by donating to the Todos Santos Hurricane Relief fund: With your contributions we will help to feed, clothe and rebuild the homes and lives of our  people in this beautiful Pueblo Magico.

http://www.gofundme.com/eskrns

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Filed Under: Baja

Playa Rosarito

Posted on September 14, 2014 by No Comments

With our late start crossing the border, we rolled into our beach view campsite just before sunset. It was a weekend, and according to some of the other campers, the beach was filled with folks from Mexicali trying to escape the heat inland.

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Apparently, sunset isn’t the cue to pack up and go home. Neither is the tide coming in. We watched from above as people waited until the tide was running below their car before attempting to move it. And then, they decided driving into the surf was a better option. Some tried to time their entrance with the wave’s retreat, but some didn’t.

We must have watched 5 cars that got sea water up to their windows.  The cars that could keep going would then speed across the water break, and several almost hit people still playing in the surf.

Eventually, we had to get back to the grill and make some dinner.  Later, when we returned, their were just two cars waiting to be towed, but farther down the beach there was a lot of emergency vehicles. I was told it was probably a DUI checkpoint, but I hope everyone was okay.

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Crazy – just 50 miles north of here, the campgrounds are packed and some are charging upwards of $100 USD (seriously) for a single night of camping near the beach. Here, we’re beachfront with plenty of space for 10 bucks. It’s good to be back in Mexico.

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Filed Under: Mexico

El Refugio

Posted on September 2, 2014 by 1 Comment

I think it was luck, but we managed a campsite at El Refugio Beach. We pulled up to see the familiar ‘campground full’ sign at the entrance, but  just asked the dumb question anyway.  “Any campsites available?”

“Sure, we have two,” the cheery ranger replied.

Kids, beach, beach forts. OK, this is good. There are so many great memories here, but for now my favorite quote from Bode telling me about the friends he made: “They’ve been camping here for 11 years! Well, not in a row.”

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And just before the real heat hits, the window roller-upper breaks again. Seriously, we replace this thing annually (at least.) Luckily, a few extras have made it into the ‘parts bag’. Now, it’s just a matter of when Jason can get around to fixing it. Good news though, we found the missing fork.

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Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

– Groucho Marx

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Filed Under: California

More Coast

Posted on September 1, 2014 by 2 Comments

We continued down the coast of California and the whales continued to put on a show. We heard that this was early for them, so we are hoping to catch them again in Mexico.

If you ever happen to be passing through Cayucos and stop at LaundraLand, try the 2nd dryer from the right on the top row. It seems to be a magic dryer with no timer. run it all day for $0.25. It’s the little things in life that brighten your day.

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Coastal camping has become even more problematic as we get farther south. It’s still summer and most of the campsites have been booked for months. We weren’t able to luck into any cancellations, so after getting turned away at a state park we headed inland and ended up following another bus all the way to county campsite ‘Cero Alto’ in the mountains. We got the last two spots, right next to each other. Go figure.

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Scott, Laura, Eloise, Piper, Boone (& their dog Euie) hopped out of their Champagne Edition and we knew we had met some new friends. These guys were heading back to Olympia, WA after a month-long camping trip down the coast.

They bought their bus for one dollar ten years ago. Yep, you read that right. But since then, they’ve put the requisite blood, sweat, tears and of course money into their sweet ride. Perfect for a family of 5 plus a dog.

We swapped stories, shared ‘tales of woe’, and roasted some s’mores.  Eloise, Piper and Bode played games, created art, and decided to have a slumber party in the bus. You see, in some circles, having a camper is pretty cool.

The next morning, we had to go our separate directions, but we’re looking forward to visiting them on our way to Alaska sometime (next year?)

We timed our drive through Los Osos badly and were there on a Sunday. We had planned to meet Jad and the GoWesty gang a few days earlier but didn’t make it. We had to be in L.A. the next day. So, we had to settle for a drive-by sticker tag of their office. Hope to catch them on our next loop around.

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Does everybody always ask you what year it is?

-Piper

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Filed Under: California

The Central Coast

Posted on August 31, 2014 by 3 Comments

From Monterey, we headed south down Highway 1 along the Pacific coast. Even in August, the weather is chilly and the fog is present most of the day.

The drive is windy and slow, and perfect for gazing over the rocky cliffs and looking for secluded beaches. Several times, we were able to see whales breaching off the coast and pulled over to watch them while making lunch.

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There is an elephant seal viewing area, where we joined hundreds of other tourists to get a look. They were much closer than I got in Argentina.  And a little more active as well.

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We’re slowly getting back into the swing of being back on the road again. But each day, we find there is something that we need we no longer have. When we shipped the bus back from Colombia, it had to be empty, so we donated most of our things. The airline also lost 1 large bag of Jason’s. At the time, we couldn’t really figure out what exactly was missing besides his hiking boots and some dirty clothes. Now, I realize it was our cooking pot, a few of our decent knives and some other kitchen odds and ends.

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GoWesty had hooked us up with three great sets of bamboo utensils, but somehow after a few weeks on the road, we’re missing a fork. Jason and Bode have decided it was MY fork that went missing, and keep giving me a spoon at every meal. Yes, you can eat a pork chop with a spoon.

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Filed Under: California

Monterey

Posted on August 22, 2014 by 2 Comments

Jason’s dad was stationed in Monterrey in the 50’s. He’s always loved the area, and especially the weather.

We met him here for a few days of reminiscing and wave watching. What we didn’t know when he booked his flight, was that this was Concours d’Elegance week- the most crowded week in the area. I’ve never heard of this, but from what I could tell, it was a bunch of rich, old white men driving their fancy cars around. Or, in a lot of cases, towing their old cars around.

We were able to luck into a hotel room that slept 3, so I camped in the parking lot surrounded by some rare Czech car and an Italian number.

We did a lot of Pacific Grove walking, and of course went to the excellent Monterrey Aquarium.

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*Bode has been bugging us about wanting a job, so we suggested roof sea gull poop removing.

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Filed Under: California

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