Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Carlsbad Caverns 

As we drove southwest from Carlsbad NM to the caverns we realized that we have now been in all 4 US deserts – Great Basin, Mohave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan.

We walked down the natural entrance into the Caverns. We saw lots of swallows; the bats come in May so we did not see them. We saw lots of neat structures. We rented audioguides. There were numbers marked on the trail. If we pushed the buttons on our handheld guides, it told us about what we were seeing along the path.

We ate 750 feet under ground. The elevator went 16 feet a second.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Valley of the Fire and White Sands National Monument 

After leaving Socorro, we made a pit stop at the Valley of the Fire. This is a huge lava flow that just flowed out of the ground about 1000 years. There was no volcano, just a hole in the ground. We went for a short 1 mile walk and saw bubbles that had caved in. They made small caves that, the sign said, sometimes had bats in them (only the bigger ones). We climbed into one and saw none. I don’t think that I was totally disappointed.

On the road again we saw tumbleweed crossing the road. I thought that was only in the movies!!


White Sands National Monument is an awesome place! The sand is so white and so light. Where the wind has blown are ripples that look like water. The dunes look like waves in the distance.

We ran and jumped off the edges of the “waves” and Dad took pictures.

We saw a stink bug. We realized that many of the tracks we had seen in the sand were made by stink bugs, not lizards. I saw a deer track and a big cat track.

I also found crystals of gypsum. The “sand” at White Sands is really ground up gypsum, not quartz like it is on most beaches.


Socorro, New Mexico 

When we got to Socorro, we saw how small it was. The people we are visiting have a phone book about ¼ of an inch thick!!! Lafayette’s is bigger!

But, I love Socorro because it is so small. Emily and I got on our bikes and we could ride to the other side of town in about 10 minutes!!!!

In the afternoon we walked to the mineral museum at New Mexico Tech. It was cool and we could buy some mineral samples. I bought malachite.

Last night we had dinner at Fred and Lois's house. They are VERY good cooks!


Friday, March 26, 2004

Hiking the Red Dot Trail 

Today we went down into the Rio Grande canyon with June, a friend living in White Rock. At the top it is mostly rocky and very steep. We had to jump from rock to rock. The Natives of the area used to live there so we saw many petroglyphs! My favorite one was a life size mountain lion! I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing something that someone had sat and pounded for probably many days!! We kept hiking down until we got to a little stream. We tried to follow it up the hill so we could see where it came out of the ground but we couldn’t get past some big rocks. Then we saw the beaver dam. June had been down there many times so she knew where the beaver dam was. She said that she had never seen the beaver, and we didn’t see it either. We did see some trees that had been gnawed down, and we picked up some of the shavings as souvenirs. We followed a path to a big waterfall and climbed right on top of a rock that it was going over. At the bottom some person had made a dam so it was like a swimming hole, a bit cold though.

Then we found the Rio Grande. I was moving quite fast and it was very cold, probably from melted snow, we assumed. We started back up. We had dinner at June’s house. She has a son that is Emily's and my age so we had a good time!


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Los Alamos 

The drive from Durango to Los Alamos is gorgeous. We stopped many times for pictures and for lunch at the Echo Amphitheater, a high, curved rock formation which does indeed echo even the smallest sound.

We arrived at Bob and Maria Reedy's in the late afternoon on Tuesday.

Wednesday we toured Bandelier National Monument, visiting the excellent ruins there. We especially liked that we could climb into the caves and up the long ladders to see the puebloes constructed under the overhang. It was a perfect day for the tour -- 75-degrees and breezy.

Today David met with some colleagues while Amanda and Emily worked on school work and took a bike ride.


Monday, March 22, 2004

Monument Valley to Durango 

Today was another "driving day." We left Monument Valley and headed for the Four Corners. We took pictures on the brass plaque. Amanda and I ran around so that we were in Colorado, then Utah, then Arizona, then New Mexico. One girl jumped rope in each state. We ate fry bread and bought some bracelets.

Then we drove to Durango. It is colder here. While Mom was cooking dinner, we were playing frisbee. We heard an eeeek, crach, and saw smoke. There was an accident on the road.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

Monument Valley 

This afternoon after Glen Canyon we drove to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is made up of lots of Earth’s sculptures. Sedimentary rock piled up and then started to erode away. Some places where the rock is a little harder did not erode. This makes lots of “monuments” of rock standing hundreds of feet in the air.

Since it is in the middle of Navajo Nation, most of them have names like “Big Elephant” and “The Three Sisters”. When you stop at a pull off, there are people selling jewelry. Emily got an arrowhead, and I got a bracelet. The people are very nice.

The views are great. Dad got lots of pictures. We just drove down the road. We aren’t allowed to hike up to the monuments because they easily crumble and they are sacred to the Navajos.

It was a beautiful day in Monument Valley.

We are spending the night in a campground near one of the mittens.


Glen Canyon Dam 

When we pulled out of Wahweap Campground, we stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center. There was an excellent display about how the dam was built. It is rather amazing to think about the engineering achievement it was to build this dam in the late 50s and early 60s. I was startled to learn that the bridge next to the dam was first built in San Francisco, disassembled, and shipped to the canyon for installation. At the time it was the highest arch bridge in the nation.

We also took a tour which allowed us to walk out on the dam and take the elevator down into it to the electric power plant. Once again we learned about how low the lake levels are. The dearth of water is making the plant less efficient for generating electricity. In addition, docks for boats have had to be moved further out into the lake and boaters must be more aware of submerged water hazards. The lake was nearly full in 1993 and has been declining since. The projection for this year is that the input will be more than last year, but still less than the output for the year.

Our tour guide was very informative. She answered honestly questions about the impact of the dam on the river and archeological sites and potential silting problems. While Lake Powell has been a boom for water sport enthusiasts (“The Oasis in the Desert”), its environmental impact continues to create controversy. There are those who believe it should be drained.


Saturday, March 20, 2004

Las Vegas to Lake Powell 

Today we got up, late then drove all day. Not that exciting. We got to this campground in Arizona on Lake Powell. We went for a bike ride down to the water. It is really cold, not that we would be swimming anyway!!!!!! Tomorrow we are heading onto the road again!


I was amazed to see Lake Powell. There is almost no water in it. Compared with the last time we saw it, in 1995, there is 100 feet less water. In fact it is the lowest level in 30 years. The last time it was this low the lake was still filling since the dam was built. It is expected that the lake will continue to fall until later in April when the melt in the CO mountains will begin to fill it.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Las Vegas 

Today we pulled into a Flying J in Las Vegas. Vegas is a very colorful city, full of lights, casinos, restaurants, hotels, and pawn shops. That is about it, at least that is the part we saw. Once we had all taken our showers at the Flying J we headed to town.

Vegas is broken up into different places. They made a replica of the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty. They called this New York - New York. Inside was just another casino. It also had a roller coaster that went around the outside of the place. Emily and I went on it. It was an upside-down roller coaster, Emily’s first, so we were really excited; it was fun. There is also Egypt (the sphinx and a pyramid), Paris (the Eifel Tower), Ancient Rome, and a medieval Castle. We didn’t go into them all. My dad gambled only 10 dollars and won 5 dollars. Then he gambled that too!!!!! In the end we only had 1 dollar that he had won, and we decided to put it in our scrap book.

We went to dinner at the Medieval Castle. It was a buffet with moderate food. We got home late but satisfied because all in all it was a great day.


Today we drove to Las Vegas, left the trailer in the Flying J, and went "out on the town". We had a great time, but it is over the top here. Amanda wondered as we drove "home" if we had set a record -- we figure we spent less than $100 for our evening out including dinner, drinks, the New York - New York roller coaster (girls only), and gambling (lost).


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Death Valley 

Today after the students, Fred, Steve, and Roger left, we headed off to Death Valley. We first went up Wildrose Canyon to the charcoal kilns. They made them in 1879. They were designed by Swiss Engineers and built by Chinese laborers. They were to make charcoal for the smelters. They looked like beehives and when we went inside we could hear our echo. It is such a shame that they were only in use for 3 years!!!!!!

Next we went to the sand dunes. When the wind reaches this point of the canyon it slows down. It leaves grains of sand and over many years they build up into big dunes of sand. We walked on them but the grains were so fine that we didn’t take off our shoes.

Next we headed to Dante’s View. It is the highest point on one of the ranges. We had lunch there and we walked out to the end of one of the ledges. Emily wanted to go all the way to the end, but I was scared to fall so I didn't go. She said it was really pretty though.

Next we went out on the 17 mile drive to Badwater. On the way we went to Devil’s golf course. I guess it is called that because only the Devil could golf on it. It is made of mostly salt from dried up water and mud.

We drove all the way out to Badwater. Badwater is the lowest point that is not covered with water in the western hemisphere (the Dead Sea is lower). It does have a little bit of water, but it is really really salty, hence the name Badwater. It is located 282 feet below sea level.

Next we went to the Artist’s Palette. It is a very colorful drive through some of the mountains surrounding Death Valley. We got some great pictures.

On the way back Mom wanted to go up the Golden Canyon, one of the many canyons that runs into Death Valley. It wasn’t quite as big as Grand Canyon so it was only about an hour walk. I was a great, yet hot, day.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Sampling - Day II 

Today we all went sampling with Dad. When we got there we realized that it would be very hard to get through the washed-out road with our truck, but we eventually made it. The hills are very interesting. They are like a paved parking lot on top. The rocks have all been blown smooth after hundreds of thousands of years. We dug a hole in the middle, about 2 meters deep, 2 meters wide, and about 1 meter long. It took almost all day. I didn’t do much work. I mostly sat around reading. Then we got the samples and filled the hole in. It kind of ruined the landscape, but it will go back to the way it was in about 100,000 years!!!

Fred will take all of the rocks and dirt back to New Mexico and will extract the chlorine from them. Then Dad will date them using the accelerator at Purdue to find out when there was a lake in Panamint Valley.


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sampling - Day I 

Dad, students, and others left at 8 AM to collect some samples to help determine when there was a lake in Panamint Valley. We decided not to go the first day so we spent the day at home.

The day was nice. It was warm but there was a nice breeze so it didn’t seem the 80-85 it was. We went for a hike in the early morning. The night before Fred had told us that there was a ghost town only “2 miles” away. He said that we could ride our bikes but after only a few feet we learned that the bikes were not a good idea on the gravel, rocky road. We ditched them on the side of the road because there was no one around to steal them. We walked on. And on. And on. After a while we figured that his 2 miles wasn’t quite right. We came to a clearing and saw about mile away over rough desert what was probably the mine. But the road didn’t go that way. It went about 2-3 miles in a half circle. We started off anyway but didn’t make it because we had to go back. We came back, did homework, and flew kites.

When Dad and the kids came home, we made a fire after dinner. Emily and I slept outside under the stars because we were too dirty to sleep in the house (we don’t have much water so we can’t all take showers) but mostly because it is so pretty outside.


Monday, March 15, 2004

Flagstaff to Panamint Valley 

The trip from Flagstaff to Panamint Valley took us through Death Valley. We didn’t stop at most of the sites since we plan to take a day of sight seeing after David does his sampling with Fred Phillips, Roger Smith, and Steve Root. The trip through the valley was uneventful except for the trip over Townes Pass. We had no real problems – had to stop to let the transmission cool twice – but a gravel truck coming the other way did. It was sitting at the bottom of the hill near Stovepipe Wells with the entire rear end on fire. Our guess is that the brakes over heated and the tires caught on fire.

After locating our agreed upon camping place on a mining road in Panamint Valley, we awaited the arrival of the others – Steve with his 10 Hamphire College students, Fred, and Roger.


Saturday, March 13, 2004

Grand Canyon 

Today is my birthday!!! I am 13 years old. We went to the Grand Canyon as one of my presents.

On the way there we drove by Sunset Crater. It used to be a volcano in about 1064, but is dormant now. We also saw some ruins from the pueblo people who lived there 700 years ago. Then we headed off for the Grand Canyon.

I always thought that the Grand Canyon would be not very wide but very deep. Boy, was I wrong. The Grand Canyon isn’t just straight down in most places. Mostly it slopes down but I still was scared of falling off because it is so far down. We went on some of the trails that went down the canyon. We only went ½ a mile a most though because the ice was very slippery and we were afraid we would slip and fall. My dad said, “One slip and you’re dead.” After he said that many times, we knew not to go too near the edge. Well, at least I didn’t, but Emily insisted on standing on the very edge.

While we were on one trail a lady came up. She looked about my mom’s age; she said that she had been down in the canyon for 4 days!!! We asked her if it was her first time and she said, “Oh, I have been down a few times, maybe 50 or 60 times.” 50 or 60 times????!?!?!?!?!?

When we came home, I opened my presents. Then we went to the restaurant here at the park. The food was delicious, but the best part was the singing. It was supposed to be an old western style steak house so the waiters sang many songs. They sang one at a time or they all sang and danced around. It was quite amusing. Emily told our waiter that it was my birthday, and he said that they would sing and dance happy birthday for me. I begged him no. He thought it was all very funny, but in the end he just brought me my free ice cream and didn’t sing anything. THANK YOU!!!!! I told Dad to give him an extra tip!!!

My birthday was the best ever!!!


Friday, March 12, 2004

Meteor Crater 

Today we got up early (6:30) to drive to Meteor Crater and The Grand Canyon. Today we went to the Meteor Crator and tomorrow (for my birthday) we are going to the Grand Canyon.

Meteor Crater was the first crater on Earth that was proven to be formed by a meteor. Since then, many have been identified. This was the first because since it was in the desert not much erosion occured, leaving the hole the way it was 50,000 years ago. We learned many things from the tour guide. When the meteor hit it vaporized but some chunks where found. Around the edges of the crater is all of the dirt that was in the ground. It flew up and flipped over so we can see rock that should be underground, along the edge of the crater. We only got to go a little bit around the outside of the crater, not inside. You can see through binoculars the mine that is down there. They had a mine because meteorites are a exelent source of iron so they thought they could mineit there, but they later found that most of the meteor vaporized so there was none to be found.

There was also a very informational movie and museum that we looked through. They also have telescopes so you can see closley the crater's inside. It is so far down (500 feet) and so far across (3/4 of a mile) that you need telescopes to see much of it!

Before we traveled east on I-40 to Meteor Crater, we left our trailer at a park in Flagstaff. When we left Flagstaff it was just starting to rain and the temperature was dropping. 30 miles away near the meteor crater it was warm (70-ish) and not raining. The rain falls on the mountains, but there is none (or little) dropped on the otherside. Some clouds made it to the desert, but the rain that fell from them didn't make it to the ground!

It was a very interesting day!!!


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Desert Museum 

Today we went to the Arizona Desert Museum with Stan and Augusta Davis. This is by far one of the best museums I have ever seen. We learned about the various flora and fauna of the desert. We particularly enjoyed the hummingbird room. Our sharp eyed Emily was able to pickout three nests -- one with a bird sitting on it and one in the progress of being built.

Stan and Augusta have a beautiful home in the Sonoran Desert with a very steep driveway. No driveway like that would be built in the snow belt. I let David drive down it, and then I got in the car.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Biosphere II 

Biosphere II

We went to Biosphere II today. If you have never heard of it, it is like another world inside our world. It was an experiment about global warming and stuff. It is totally isolated. They have plants and stuff to make oxygen and to eat and stuff. There is an ocean, rainforest, tropical desert, a savannah, and a marsh. It was really cool. Actually it was hot because they have to keep the temperature really hot because everything is tropical. t almost forgot to tell you the whole point of it. They put 8 people (4 men and 4 women - they were all scientists) in it for 2 years with no supplies from the outside world. They had tons of water stored which they recyled. (They had to water the plants. They had sprinklers on the ceiling for rain. They made wind and waves in the ocean and everything. It was really cool (hot). Also everything is humid so that makes it even more hot!!!!


We had an amusing thing happen today. I had a call from a woman in Livermore CA (Carol)who came across our blog when she was looking for some information about Del Valle Park (recall we stayed there in January). She is enjoying our blogs and just wanted us to know. Thank you Carol.


Sunday, March 07, 2004

Hiking in the Desert 

Today we went to Saguaro National Park East. We drove the 8 mile loop and hiked off in various places. We saw many different cactus but we didn’t really know the difference between any of them. I mean, they looked different, but we didn’t know the names. We saw the largest saguaro in the area with 33 arms!!!!!!! It looked deformed.

When we got back to the campground, we worked out at the exercise room. Then Mom made a delicious stir fry with pork and soy beans.


Saturday, March 06, 2004



We arrived in Tucson last night – Friday. Immediately we were in the swing of things. I started to wash clothes – two weeks without a washer had left us short of underwear. Then the girls found that the O’Brien Family, a family staying here in the park, was performing in the club house. The family of four sings country western style music quite well. It was entertaining – especially to listen to their 13-year-old son yodeling – and they served great cookies and coffee.

Today we did more wash – sheets and towels, then we headed off to shop for groceries. Not much fun, but had to be done.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Baja California 

While traveling down Baja California, we did not have internet access. Therefore, we kept a log as we went, but are posting the whole record as one entry today.

February 19, 2004

San Diego to Ensenada

Today we got up and left for Mexico. My dad got on the internet and found that it would be a 2 hour wait to get into Mexico, so we left early. We got there and we found that it would take 2 hours to get INTO the states but only 5 minutes to get OUT of the states.

Then we got lost. It is so hard to find where you are going when you don’t speak Spanish. I speak a little bit from Spanish class but mostly, Donde esta el sacapuntas? Which means, where is the pencil sharpener? I wasn’t much help.

We got off on a wrong road and we were headed back into the states. Long lines in front of us. We had to back up about 50 feet with cars all over!!!!! We finally were on our way and settled in to our campground - Estero Beach. It is a nice campground with a pool with palm trees growing up in the middle of it and everyone speaks ENGLISH!!! YES!!!


February 20, 2004

Ensenada, Mexico

Today we wanted to see the two big sights in Ensenada. We headed to town to get our tourist cards and be tourists. For the cards we had to fill out paperwork and then go to the bank to pay our $18.00 each. The gentleman at the immigration office held on to David’s passport until we returned with a receipt showing that we had paid the fee.

It’s easy to be a tourist in Encenada. There is one main street filled with shops selling “curios.” Mostly there is junk you don’t really need, but it’s interesting. Both Eily and Amanda purchased Mexican Jumping Beans. Remember those?

The girls were approached by a very little woman who wanted to braid their hair. They had heard about this at the hotel, so we spent the next 40 minutes while she did it. She was good and fast and the girls looked great.

After a Mexican lunch we left town for a drive out to La Bufadora, a “blow hole” on the coast. As a cave at the waterline fills with water from incoming waves, the air pressure finally pushes water up through a hole at the top. It erupts much like a geyser. Again there were “Curio Shops” everywhere.

We later returned to town to take part in Carneval. Lots of people, music, noise, and good food.

We will sleep well tonight.


February 21, 2004

Ensenada to San Quintin

This morning we headed south on the Baja. It seemed like a long trip because the road was very twisty and narrow. We traveled over mountains and through valleys. We saw fifteen graves along the side for people who were killed in accidents. It was creepy.

We are staying at a “trailer park” - El Pabellon RV Park - with sand dunes. We are right on the beach. We can ride our bikes on the hard packed sand near the shore. It is amazing. They have a whale skeleton for us to see. Wow!

Along the beach are lots of people clamming. We tried to find a clam, which was very hard. We didn’t get any. Amanda caught one crab, but after that no luck.

The man who collects the fee for parking here is going to bring us clams tomorrow.


February 22, 2004

San Quintin

Today started gray and then got worse – lots of rain. The arroyos are running and there are great pools of water in every low area. The ground seems very sandy, but there is also clay that sticks to your feet when you walk on it.

In the AM the girls went out to play in the sand. They had a great time until the rain started; then they retreated to the trailer. It was a great time to eat and study. We made clam chowder from the clams supplied by Fidel and saved some for dinner. They are a tough clam – more foot than body – but very tasty.

Finally, in the late afternoon, the weather improved. I went for a walk while David and the girls unhitched and went for a drive on the sand. Both Amanda and Emily got to drive on the sand – needless to say it was a treat.

I have mixed feelings about the beach campgrounds. It seems as if there are many entrepreneurs who are starting these grounds. Hot showers and maybe an RV dump right on the beach. Very nice as long as they remain little used. Otherwise they destroy the environment. On the other hand, it is better to have little capital investment when the storms come. I am reminded than a new National Park is being built near Pensacola Florida which permits RV camping right near the dunes. It certainly is better than a high rise apartment complex that will come down in the next storm.

Tonight there are stars in the sky and a crescent moon.


February 23, 2004


Today we drove almost all day through the desert. It was very wet. That is because it rained all day and yesterday. It doesn’t often rain in the desert, as you may know, about 10 inches per year. It probably rained 2 inches today!!

Right now we are parked behind a closed gas station north of Guerra Negro. We went for a walk before dinner and the cacti are beautiful. Some of them are over 25 feet tall! They are all different. Some have poinkies that are 2 inches long and others have poinkies that are so small you can’t see them! (but they hurt the most!)

Dad is kind of sick so we have to go to bed early tonight. Also manana we are going to go and see whales so we have to get up really early!!!!!


Febraury 24, 2004

Ojo de Liebre Lagoon Campground

What a drive today. We climbed through mountains then down into dry river beds. There were cactus forests on both sides – cardon, cirri, barrel cactus, and Adam trees were the predomintant flora. The road was relatively good, but very curvy from time to time and narrow – 9 feet lanes at best.

We reached Guerro Negro just before noon. Went into town to use the phone and the internet – it’s hard to believe there is an internet café in such a “third world” place, but there is. We did a little grocery shopping and had a delicious lunch at a taco stand.

Then we headed south five miles for the turnoff to the Lagoon. Once again we plan to see the gray whales. The lagoon is one of the primary places that they breed in during the winter months before they head north to the Berring Strait.

To get to the lagoon we have to travel 27 km on a well packed dirt and salt road. On either side are salt flats – the largest “salt harvesting” operation in the world. At the lagoon is a lovely restaurant and a campground with about 12 places to park. You are right on the beach.

We have enjoyed the afternoon watching the birds – dowitchers and shearwaters – and the whales. Using the telescope from the roof of the trailer, we have been treated to a display of spouts, tails, and breaches -one after another.

This campground reminds me that what I am going to remember about our trip though the Baja is the ubiquitous white rocks. Every campground and road through a campground is surrounded with rocks which are painted white. They are meant to demarcate the road to your spot, but what they really do is make it hard to negotiate the roads and move into your spot. Why?


February 25, 2004

Whales in Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

Today we went to see the whales. We got up early and went and bought our tickets. We had to wait for 20-30 minutes. When we were ready it was only us on the boat. Since the water was so shallow we had to wade out to the boat. My dad forgot to bring sandals but everyone else just took off our flip-flops. We saw LOTS and LOTS of whales once we got out there. Every year at about this time all of the grey whales in the whole world come HERE and breed. One baby whale came right up, I could have touched it, but I was too scared. It swam right under the boat!!!!! We also saw one dolphin.


February 25, 2004

More about whales in Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

While in the lagoon we saw many, many whales. A few even jumped out of the water. We could tell that the babies were playing. They were doing rolls in the water. Because the water is so shallow in the lagoon the whales can’t go down very deep, so they breathe all the time. We could almost always see a whale above the water.

I am starting to learn some more Spanish. Almost everyone here speaks a little English so it is not that necessary. Every time we talk to someone I tell my dad not to ruin it for me because I want to ask some things in Spanish. They say, “Hablo espanol?” Dad says, “I speak English, not Spanish!” DAAAAADDD!!!!!!

After the whales we drove to where we are now. It is a little town called San Ignacio. They have one of the biggest Missions in the world. A mission is like a church. When the Spanish came to settle Mexico they set up these missions. Today was Ash Wednesday so when we went in there were many people coming in the worship. We went up and down the streets and found a tortilleria and got some tortillas. We also found a restaurant to get some sodas. Everything is really cheap here. We got 4 drinks for $50. JUST KIDDING!! That’s 50 pesos which is less than 5 dollars. We got a mess of tortillas fresh out of the oven for 40 cents!!!!!!!!!!!


February 25, 2004

More about Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

I will never complain again. We found a use for the ubiquitous white rocks. When our truck got stuck in the soft sand, we stuck some under the wheels and off we went.


February 26, 2004 – February 29, 2004

Bahai Conception

We have traveled further south and over to the east coast of the Baja. We are spending four days on the beach on a shallow lagoon off the Sea of Cortez. It is wonderful here. The first day that we got here we went swimming immediately. It is so WARM!!! At this beach there is a spit that goes out to an island, just a little peninsula that becomes an island when the tide comes up. The island is ok, many shells and rocks. You definitely need to wear shoes when you go on it! (I learned the hard way!!!)

The sand here is soft in some places but when you run along you hit a rough spot and it hurts your feet. We spend most of the time collecting shells and lying in the sun. We do some swimming but the water is shallow and there is a danger of sting rays stinging you. Emily and I made a house in the sand out of shells. It took us almost all day to collect all of the shells.

Most of the people here are from the states and Canada. Once a school bus of Mexican kids came on an overnight field trip, but other than that, the only Mexican on the beach is the man who collects five dollars from us each evening – our rent. Because of the tourists there are many vendors that come and try to sell us stuff. We don’t buy very much, but we love to look. They also come with food: shellfish (just out of the water, obviously caught them just that morning they were so fresh), tamales, fruit, pastries, bread, and water. We have been feasting on cheap scallops, clams, and shrimp for the last few nights. My mom, who is allergic to shrimp, even had some. (She had a stomach ache afterwards) My sister doesn’t like any sea food! All the more for us, I say!!!!

We met some wonderful people from British Columbia, Frank and Joan. It was especially helpful that Frank is a retired mechanic from the mines in Logan Lake, BC; he was able to help my dad fix one of our trailer brakes that was giving us trouble.

So far we are having a very exciting, fun, but most of all lazy, visit in Bahai Conception. Tomorrow we have to turn around and head north.


March 1, 2004

Drive North - Part 1

Today we started our trip north. We were on the same road that we came down on so I read most of the time. But the desert is now full of flowers because of the rain last week.

We have to stop for many different things. Agriculture stops you to spray your truck. That is so that you can’t take any bugs out into the Northern Baja. We were also stopped by the army a number of times to see if we are hiding drugs. You can tell that they get very bored because most of the soldiers are just sitting around playing cards when we drive up. When my dad came back from showing the guy around the trailer, he told us what had happened. When the guy finished searching and found nothing, he pointed to the microwave and said, “Microwave??” My dad said, “Yeah.” The guy pulled a bag of microwave popcorn out of his pocket. We weren’t hooked up so my dad said, “No power!”

I am still having problems with my dad speaking English when I want to speak Spanish. Down south less people speak English so I got more chances. Emily and I went into a store to buy a drink, and I pretended like I didn’t know English. We didn’t have a conversation or anything, but I did find out how much it cost, and I said “Adios” while we were leaving. I don’t think that she believed me though!!!

Today we didn’t get quite to Catavina so we are spending the night parked in an abandoned Pemex station about 60 miles south.


March 2, 2004

Drive North - Part II

Today’s plan was to leave early for Catavina, arrive at the Santa Inez RV Park and Restaurant, unhitch, and explore the desert.

Unfortunately, we were greeted with low gray clouds and a mist of rain. As we drove the 60 miles north we encountered more and more rain. By the time we arrived at Catavina it was a downpour. We pulled in and took on water. Then we decided to treat ourselves to a Mexican lunch before we hunkered down to study science, math, and social studies. What better way to spend a rainy day in the desert. This is the wettest desert I have been in. You may recall we didn’t explore it on the way south since it was raining so hard.

Finally at 3:00 the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and we headed out. The scene is as described in all the guide books. Enormous rock boulders scattered and piled every where. Cirios, cardons, and barrel cactus among the rocks. Just fabulous and a photographers paradise with the late sun on them. We all clambered over the rocks and David shot as many pictures as his memory would hold. He will post them soon.


March 3, 2004

Driving North – Part III

Today we drove to San Quintin. We slept partially in. We went rock climbing again in the morning. It was fun. Once I was climbing a rock and it broke!!! I was really really scared!!

Once we got to the campground we set up a kite. We have already been to this campground so we didn’t have to look around. We went flying the kite. There wasn’t much wind so we had to run with it. Emily and I kept trading the kite off because we got tired from running so hard!!!!

I was doing some flips in the sand and I hurt my finger. It is swelling a little so it is really hard to type.


March 4, 2004

Driving North – Part IV

Today we drove from San Quintin to Tecate. The Ensenada to Tecate part of the trip was new to us. It took us over several mountain passes and through some very fertile and prosperous looking farm land. Several wineries are located here.

We crossed into the US with only a minute or two delay and headed toward Tucson. Driving on a US interstate is much more relaxing than Mex 1 and Mex 3. The latter are quite good roads, but narrow – 9 foot lanes in places – and crumbling on the edge in others. Also there is no guard rail in places where there are 400 foot drops – unnerving. Also unnerving, as Amanda pointed out earlier – are the numerous memorial crosses to those killed along the road in accidents – seems as if there is one on every curve. Frequently the destroyed vehicles have been left at the bottom of the gully.

We are spending the night in the parking lot of a large casino just off I-8. It’s cold (37-degrees) and windy. It’s supposed to warm up in Tucson.


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