Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baja 1000 Video


Take a look at this great video of the 2010 Baja 1000 (click on image). Credit goes to Geoff Hill of BajaBound Insurance.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Update on Mike Younghusband and his Baja trek

Living the dream of most Baja aficionados, Mike Younghusband continues on his trek to land's end with his trusty donkey named, well.... Don-Kay. Here's the latest update from writer Ed Zieralski and the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper with help from Baja Nomad forum and famous Baja author Graham Mackintosh.

Baja adventurer and his burro over one month into trek
By Ed Zieralski


El Cajon's Mike Younghusband set out from Tecate, Mexico on Oct. 1 for a trek of the length of Baja with his two pet dogs and trusty burro, Don-Kay.

Today, more than a month later, Mike has one dog, a stray he named, “Solo,” and Don-Kay continues to carry his gear and be his trusted companion. Last week, the Baja adventurer sent home his two pet dogs, Max and Rust
y, because he feared they might be struck by a vehicle as he walks along old roads or nears the highway on some of his hiking routes. It’s been estimated that Mike covered 219 miles in October for an average of 7.06 miles per day. He did 14 miles on his best day.

Mike told a poster on www.bajanomad.com, that Don-Kay is setting the pace. Because, as Mike told him, “when Don-Kay makes up his mind that he isn’t going any further, he isn’t kidding.” Baja residents, including members of bajanomad.com, have been treating him to an occasional warm meal and company along the way.

Graham Mackintosh, the renowned Baja writer and lecturer who was Mike’s mentor, visited his friend in late October and reports he’s doing great. Mackintosh spent two days and nights with Mike. Graham said the El Cajon native and former policeman has lost at least 15 pounds . He said Mike hated to send his dogs back, but he feared he might lose them. Mike loves his dogs and would be crushed to lose them that way.

Graham took Mike some cold pizza and beer, and the adventurer gobbled down the pizza and guzzled the cold beer. Graham also took Don-Kay some oats, carrots and apples, and the white burro inhaled the tasty treats. He said Mike will be in an area full of lobster shacks that local fishermen work out of along the coast. But once he reaches El Rosario, his trip truly will begin. He'll go long stretches without water sources.

"He's in such great shape and looks so different I didn't recognize him when I saw him," Graham said. "He really looks the part now. He was a bit overweight when he started. But he's really fit now after just one month."

Graham said Mike’s new dog, Solo, a bitch who looks to be a wolf-eyed Australian shepherd mix, has been a great addition. And in photos posted on www.bajanomad.com, Mike is pictured with another dog that looks to be a yellow Labrador. The new lineup, if you’re keeping score at home, shows Mike, Don-Kay, Solo and an unnamed, yellow Lab, who is trying to join the starting crew.

Mike now is making his way down the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula. He passed San Quintin and the famous Old Mill and is south of there. He will remain on the coast and hopes to try out his telescopic fishing pole, according to Graham. He successfully found his buried stash at Punta Colonet. That gave him fresh water and a half-gallon of whiskey that he uses to refresh and for barter purposes.

"He said he isn't drinking as much or hardly any whiskey at all," Graham said. "He just doesn't have the desire for it. Plus he said he wants to keep his head clear to make decisions for him and his animals. He'll likely be giving that away."

Graham said Mike called him after the visit and said he already missed his two pet dogs, Rusty and Max.

“Mike sure misses his two dogs,” Graham wrote in an email. “He can’t help thinking of them back in San Diego missing him and missing out on what they’ve trained for a whole year . . . They’d gone through rattlesnake avoidance courses, he’d bought little boots for their paws, and doggy jackets . . . they’d gone everywhere with him, and lightened his journey for about 140 miles. But he’s so grateful for his newfound ‘guardian angel’ – Solo. She led him to the great campsite this evening (oasis with fresh water). It might be tough, but he knows he’s done the right thing for Max and Rusty.”

Also, for all those who have criticized Mike for loading Don-Kay with too much gear, he’s about to cut back on it and will be giving away some of it to Mexican families along the way. He has discovered that he does have too much and that will lighten the load for Don-Kay and perhaps motivate the burro to quicken his pace. But Mike knows his buddy’s make-up, and being in a hurry isn’t in his DNA, unless there’s food ahead, or in Don-Kay’s case, a jenny in heat.


Click here for the original link.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An interview with Cabo Pulmo Vivo

Baja Visitor recently interviewed Pedro Zapata, the coordinator for the Cabo Pulmo Vivo campaign. Their mission is to save the Cabo Pulmo reef and lifestyle for generations to come.

Baja Visitor - Can you please tell our readers about Cabo Pulmo? Where it is? Why is it so special?

Pedro Zapata - Of course, Cabo Pulmo is a national park, on the Gulf of California coast, between La Paz and Los Cabos. With over 20,000 years, it is one of the oldest and the most important coral reef in the Gulf. It has been a protected area, with no fishing allowed, for a little over 15 years. In that time, Cabo Pulmo has experienced an incredible recovery in every aspect of marine life. There are more fish, bigger fish and more complex food chains. Cabo Pulmo is a window where one can see how the Gulf must have been like 100 years ago.


Baja Visitor - And what is the organization called Cabo Pulmo Vivo?

Pedro Zapata - Cabo Pulmo Vivo is a coalition of organizations and citizens interested in the conservation of Cabo Pulmo, and concerned with the pressures of unplanned, chaotic growth coming from tourist developments all along the region known as the East Cape.




Baja Visitor - What is the idea of the Cabo Pulmo National Park?


Pedro Zapata - Currently, Cabo Pulmo is a protected area, with more marine life than almost anywhere in the Gulf of California. The idea is that a protected area can provide a livelihood for the people who live near it, without making an extractive use (fishing), but rather focusing it on eco-tourism.


Baja Visitor - Tell us about the animals and plant life in Cabo Pulmo?




Pedro Zapata - Cabo Pulmo is teeming with life! There are plenty of fish: giant groupers, large bass, tuna, jacks, parrotfish, mobulas, etc. Also, predators are coming back. A generation ago, the people of Cabo Pulmo were told stories of sharks, but had never seen them. Today, there are tigers, bulls, white tips and others!! As many of your readers will know, top predators are indicators of healthy ecosystems. Finally, large migrating species stop by Cabo Pulmo on a regular basis these days: humpback whales, whale sharks, giant mantas, marlin and several species of turtles can be seen while diving or snorkeling in the reef. And I haven´t even mentioned the coral... The main threat to all of these forms of life comes from the pressure of tourist developments that are planned throughout the region.

Baja Visitor - How has support from local, state and federal government been?

Pedro Zapata - The federal government is responsible for the management of protected areas like Cabo Pulmo. Although there are important challenges to the management of the area, there is currently good coordination between levels of government.

Baja Visitor - Are you able to get the message out to the public about Cabo Pulmo and Cabo Pulmo Vivo? What methods are you using?

Pedro Zapata - Well, we are trying. There are some television efforts, a lot of newspaper and magazine stories and we are also using social media tools. Editor's Note: as well as blogs like Baja Visitor.

Baja Visitor - What do you want the readers of this interview to take from this? How can they help?

Pedro Zapata - They can help by going to Cabo Pulmo, getting to know it and getting the word out that a different type of tourism is possible, and that big hotels, golf courses and marinas are not the only way forward. Alternatively, they can log on to
www.cabopulmovivo.org, where they can find more information.

Baja Visitor - Thank you for your time. Any last words or comments?

Pedro Zapata - Any help is useful: come to Cabo Pulmo and support local businesses, visit our webpage, become a donor or supporter of one of the local NGOs or simply spread the word! Any help you can give will be much appreciated!! We need to make sure the Cabo Pulmo gets told and becomes a model story for other communities and their ecosystems, so that we can have many Cabo Pulmos for generations to come. Thank you!



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tequila Aficionados! Expo Tequila 2010 in Tijuana

Tijuana's tequila expo is coming up soon, specifically October 13th-17th. The event runs for four days right in front of the Jai Alai building, between 7th and 8th avenues on Avenida Revolucion. It will open Wednesday from 4pm-11:30pm; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1:00pm-11:30pm and Sunday from 1pm-8:30pm.
There will be over sixty (60) tequila vendors and representatives. Guests will have the opportunity to sample over 300 types of Tequila. Admission is $5USD or $60.00 pesos (Tequila sampling is included in the price). Entertainment and music, beer, soft drinks and typical Mexican food vendors will be on site to compliment the event.

San Diego's Five Star Tours is offering transportation packages to and from the event. You can even book a hotel in Tijuana for overnight stays.
You can fin more information on their website at http://www.expo-tequila.com/












Monday, October 4, 2010

El Cajon man to hike from Tecate to Cabo San Lucas

Wow, what an incredible journey Mike Younghusband began on October 1st. He is walking with a burro and two dogs from the border town of Tecate to Cabo San Lucas in, hopefully, six months.

You can read the story below from the San DiegoUnion Tribune newspaper and we'll hopefully have updates throughout his travel. You'll see he began the journey and purchased his donkey at one of my favorite Tecate ranches; Rancho Ojai.
Baja adventure begins for man, his burro and two dogs

By Ed Zieralski

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 11:10 a.m.

El Cajon's Mike Younghusband begins his trek of the length of Baja with his burro, Don-Kay, and two dogs, Rusty and Max.

TECATE — Mike Younghusband began his Baja adventure today with a loaded burro, his two pet dogs and a heart filled with wanderlust that he hopes will power him on his six-month, 1,500-mile trek of Mexico’s incredible peninsula.

“Viva Mexico. God Bless America,” Younghusband yelled as a Tecate TV station filmed him loading his burro and heading out on his incredible journey that will take him mostly along the Baja coast to his final destination, Cabo San Lucas.

“He’s driven, motivated, but the thing I worry most about is him getting lonely,” said his daughter, Tammy Mettler, who was part of the send-off contingent that joined Younghusband at Hernan Ibanez Bracamontes’ Rancho Ojai in east Tecate.

Younghusband’s good friend, Buddy Shaffer, drove him from his home in El Cajon, and Younghusband’s neighbor, retired nurse Alice Spence, also made the trip. Once here, Younghusband was met by Eva Raquel Garcia Rocha, Secretaria de Turismo del Estado de Baja California and Juan Carlos Pimentel Lopez, coordinator de Cultura Turistica y Capacitacion. Other Rancho Ojai employees joined in and all applauded as he set out at 9:30 a.m.

It took Younghusband 45 minutes to get his trusty burro, the stubborn, 4-year-old Don-Kay, loaded to go. As he packed, thunder roared in the Tecate valley. If that wasn’t ominous enough, Younghusband drove through a large section of east Tecate that had burned in a roaring wildfire that, at one point, threatened this oasis in the desert last weekend.

It didn’t take long for Younghusband to pit-out his Baja Nomad T-shirt, named for the Web site he frequents. Younghusband, 61 and a former El Cajon cop, wasn’t deterred by any of that.

“He made up his mind exactly a year ago to do this,” his daughter, Tammy, said. “It was Oct. 1 last year when he told us he was going to do this. I’ve hit him with every question I could since then, but he always has an answer. He’s set to do this, and he will.”

Spence, his neighbor in El Cajon, said she knows exactly why Younghusband is attempting this rigorous trek that is expected to take approximately six months. He plans to have a layover in Loreto, where he owns a home. Spence believes it’s as much about soul-searching as it is about wanderlust and adventure-seeking.

“I think he is looking for a purpose to his life,” Spence said. “He told me he just got tired of getting up every day, going to work, coming home and turning on the TV and then going to bed. Same thing every day, he said, and he got tired of it. He said there has to be more to life than that, and he’s going to go look for it.”

Younghusband told a Tecate TV station today that his trip also is about showing Americans that it’s safe to travel in Baja.

“I want all Americans to see that you can come to Baja, be a tourist and be safe,” Younghusband said.

Younghusband was inspired to do this by his mentor, Graham Mackintosh, the Baja adventurer who first walked the entire route around Baja, 3,000 miles, in 1983. Younghusband read Mackintosh’s books about his Baja adventures and was inspired by him.

Younghusband’s family had a going away party for him last Sunday during the Chargers-Seahwaks football game. They made a giant banner that said, “Buena Suerte on Your Adventure Down Baja!” and took a picture of family and friends behind it. They put the picture in a card and all signed it. And Tammy wrote a letter to her father that he’ll open on the trip.

Younghusband said his gear on Don-Kay weighs approximately 200 pounds, about 100 pounds on each side of the sturdy Don-Kay. He’s also carrying 50 pounds of gear in his own backpack.

When told it looked like he had the kitchen sink in his pack, Younghusband said, “If it’s too much, I’ll give some stuff away to a Mexican family along the way. Don-Kay will let me know if it’s too much.”

In addition to worrying about her father getting lonely, Tammy Mettler is concerned that Max, an 8-year-old chihuahua-dachshund mix , will have trouble keeping up.

“The veterinarian said he’s right on the edge of being too old for a trip like this, but my father really wants to take him,” Tammy said. “I guess if he has trouble, someone can go down and get him.”

Younghusband won’t have to worry about Rusty, his 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier who bounded off on the trail after Don-Kay had to be coaxed out of the Rancho Ojai gate.

Younghusband took his leave from Rancho Ojai, Hernan Ibanez Bracamontes’ Tecate paradise. It’s a spread over 300 acres, has 32 cabins, sites for camps, 40 sites for RVs with full hook-ups. It also has a bowling alley. swimming pool, Jacuzzi, miniature golf, basketball court, fields for baseball and soccer, game room, pool tables.

Younghusband bought Don-Kay from Bracamontes, but there was a problem with the first burro Younghusband bought from him.

“It was a female, and it was pregnant,” Younghusband said. They made another deal, and Younghusband managed to get Don-Kay, who was Bracamontes’ prize burro.

Younghusband spent a year planning, and his daughter said he has left no detail unchecked. He made several trips to Baja to bury caches of food and supplies, even whiskey for “drinking and trading,” he said.

As he left the gate, he already had worked up a sweat as dark clouds gathered to the east.

“Viva Mexico, God Bless America,” he said one last time.

Click through to the actual article here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baja Book Festival - October 9th

Just got some information from Joanna Jones about her upcoming event. Sounds like fun.




On Saturday, October 9, 2010, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., more than 20 authors and a variety of arts, crafts, food and more will welcome the public free of charge at Joanna Jones Galeria y Café, at kilometer 47.6 on the free road, just north of the Cantamar/Primo Tapia toll road exit. Just 45 minutes south of the border, the event is sponsored by the Baja California Secretary of Tourism, the Rosarito Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Baja Bound, AMPI, the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and the Baja Times. The Grand Baja Resort in Puerto Nuevo is offering a 30% discount on hotel accommodations for festival attendees.

The festival will feature well-known food vendors including Splash! restaurant, Baja Sausage, Hogaza Hogaza, and a coffee area sponsored by Café Sospesso. Wine, beer (sponsored by Corona) and margaritas will be available for purchase, as well. Authors include Greg Niemann, Judy Botello, Marsh Cassady, Peter Fowler, Mikel Miller, Cora Kerry, Nicole Beaudry, Lin Robinson, Lilly Menches, Tom Gatch, Martina, Diego Moreno, Paul Vanderer, Robert Yourell and others. With the help of Rosarito’s Friends of the Library, the festival will have a Magical Children’s Reading Area, promoting literacy at an early age. Francisco Cabello, renowned artist who designed the book festival logo, has donated the original painting to be raffled at the event. Tickets are available for $10 each or 3 tickets for $20. There will be another raffle for dinners, tequila, wine and more, with tickets on sale for $5 each or 5 for $20. It is highly anticipated that Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres will be present to recognize the festival as part of the city’s October Cultural Month.

Besides books-a-plenty, there will be art and jewelry areas, service and nonprofit areas, and entertainment. The festival is supported by the Nitro/CreatividadVisual, Baja Good Life Club, Newport Beach Hotel, Bajamar golf course, Ocean’s Salt, Hogaza Hogaza, Serena/Cruz Roja, Santa Barbara at Bajamar, Bajamar Premier Properties and others.
I hope you can join us!!!!

Saludos, Joanna Jones
Jo Ann Knox
Joanna Jones Galeria y Cafe

Monday, September 13, 2010

Baja to improve Tijuana-Ensenada scenic road



Federal Government Spending $30 Million
In 2010 On Scenic Road Improvements


ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO---The federal government this year has allocated about $30 million for improvements to make the scenic road from Tijuana to Ensenada safer and more attractive, according to Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres.


"This significant investment will make the beautiful road more comfortable for both daily users and the tourists who use it,” Torres said. “It will make one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal highway in the world safer and even more attractive.”

The funds are federal investment resources of the National Infrastructure Fund (Fonadin), which has worked closely with business groups in Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada and local authorities.

The approximately 60-mile stretch of road extends from Tijuana to Ensenada, much of it in mountain areas with stunning, panoramic views of the ocean, beaches, villages and coastline.

"Eventually we will have a better road, so we hope that users will make good use of it and report any problems they encounter," Torres said. “The panoramic views it offers are beloved by many of visitors.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mexico begins work on expanded border crossing

By Sandra Dibble, UNION-TRIBUNE

TIJUANA — A major expansion of the San Ysidro Port of Entry entails a counterpart project south of the border, and work has already begun to accommodate the future southbound flow of cars from San Diego into Tijuana.

Mexico’s investment in the expansion project—about 700 million pesos, or $54 million—includes work on three bridges over the Tijuana River that will serve to channel southbound traffic into Mexico. Authorities expect to complete two of those bridges by the end of the year, said Mario Diaz, director of strategic projects for the Baja California government. By 2013, Mexico will be ready on its end to receive vehicles at a new southbound crossing located at El Chaparral, west of the current lanes.

Mexico next month expects to open three additional lanes at the existing crossing, increasing the number of lanes from six to nine. But the new Chaparral crossing will have 19 southbound lanes, more than double that number.

The new crossing is being built on Mexican federal property that now is largely vacant, and will not involve relocation of any residents in the adjacent neighborhood, known as Colonia Federal, Diaz said.

See original article at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/27/mexico-begins-work-expanded-border-crossing/

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tijuana Community Cleanup - WildCoast

I just received this from Wildcoast. Check it out as it's something worthwhile.




Join WiLDCOAST and Tijuana Calidad de Vida in Tijuana, Mexico for a community cleanup and help prevent ocean-bound trash from making its way across the border and into the ocean.

Los Alacranes is a neighborhood of Los Laureles Canyon, a sub-basin of the Tijuana River watershed. This neighborhood is home to thousands of people who have settled in or around Los Laureles creek. Due to lack of government resources, the community goes without basic infrastructure such as trash collection and sewage collection. As a consequence, every year when it rains, thousands of pounds of trash and solid waste make their way into the Tijuana River, Estuary and ultimately into the ocean. Help us minimize the impact of this pollution on our border region by joining us on July 24 from 8am to 12pm in Tijuana, Mexico.
For more information please email: paloma@wildcoast.net

Monday, June 28, 2010

Walk a 1,000 Miles in their Shoes!


Found this great blog about an Englishman (Benjamin Dawes) walking the Baja peninsula from Los Cabos to Tijuana and thought I'd give him some support by spreading the word to our readers. Hopefully you will enjoy the blog (adventure) as much as I am amd donate to some of the charities.


Here's some information from his site: In April 2010 I am setting out to walk 1000 miles from Los Cabos to Tijuana up the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. I’m walking this epic journey of physical punishment not only as a phyical challenge but also to raise money for three fantastic causes, GART, Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital and Los Cabos Children's Foundation.
Check out his blog at http://www.theirshoes.org/site/

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Possible Tijuana to San Felipe Flights


Discussions are underway by Baja California state government and tourism officials with representatives of Aereo Calafia to offer charter flights from Tijuana to San Felipe roundtrip. This would cut the driving time from almost 5 hours to a flight of less than an hour.

Aereo Calafia already offers short-leg charters to 32 destinations such as Los Cabos, Copper Canyon, whale tours, and throughout ther Sea of Cortez region plus as far south as Manznillo. Their planes now seat between 5-20 passengers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baja by the Sea - May 29th


For the second year in a row, Baja California will promote itself in San Diego. Baja by the Sea is a free event and will be held at Embarcadero Park next to Seaport Village. Look for Mexican cuisine and wines, Baja artists, musicians and dancer plus tourism booths. See http://www.bajabythesea.org/ for more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

CAREM to open new museum in Tecate

Today's San Diego Union Tribune ran a great story on the efforts of CAREM, Hernán & Zella Ibáñez, Mike Wilken, and others to open a new historical museum about the indigenous Kumeyaay population of northern Baja California. CAREM has been instrumental in promoting both the history of the native population and of saving historical missions and buildings in Baja California. Personally I love the history of Baja and as friends of Zella and Hernán, I hope you help support CAREM's good work. For more information, take a look at their website: www.carem.org

Here's the article:

Hubbell design rounds out Indian museum
By Jose Luis Jiménez, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

Round shapes were prominent in local indigenous cultures.

Acorns were a food staple. Bowls were woven to carry food and other artifacts. Some of the people lived in circular huts.

So when noted San Diego artist and designer James Hubbell was chosen to envision a new museum to preserve the Indian culture on Mexico’s side of the border, he designed a round building with doors and windows in the shape of pointed arches.

“You want it to be tied to the past but that people also think the future is exciting,” said Hubbell, explaining his thought process for the curvy structure. “I wanted to create something they would be proud of.”

The building on the grounds of the Tecate cultural center is set to be the first museum dedicated to Indian culture in northern Baja California. The 613-square-foot facility will be surrounded by a garden with plants and trees that the Indians use in such diverse ways as making medicine and making weapons.

Laura Cota can’t wait to bring some of the dozens of children she helps care for in an orphanage. She already helped establish classes to teach the Kumeyaay culture, spelled Kumiai in Mexico, to children in a meeting room at the city’s cultural center next door.

On a sunny day in May, she brought six children to learn traditional Indian songs. The class was canceled, but the children were still able to soak up some culture by playing with traditional artifacts, including a bow and arrow, and trying a game played with a stick and a ball, similar to hockey.

“We have been searching for an opportunity to display our culture so people can get to know us,” said Cota, one of about 12 Indians actively involved with the project. “This seems to be an ideal place for that.”

Unlike some of their relatives in the United States, the estimated 1,200 Indians who live in Tecate and the five villages that surround it do not have the benefit of casino revenues.

They relied on about $42,000 in contributions to pay for the architectural drawings and to begin acquiring exhibits, said Michael Wilken, an anthropologist who has studied indigenous cultures in Baja California for decades.

A grant of about $112,000 from Baja California’s state tourism office paid for the building’s construction.

The museum is scheduled to open this summer, as soon as enough funds are raised to pay for exhibits and operating expenses, said Wilken, who will be the curator.

The project is unique in that most museums in Mexico are operated by the government.

“In this space, we shall prioritize the Kumiai language,” Wilken said during a recent tour of the empty building. “As much as possible, we want them to do the explaining.”

The Kumeyaay band, whose local roots extend 1,300 years, stretched from San Diego County into northern Baja California until the border was created in 1848. Slowly, as enforcement increased, cousins, aunts and uncles were separated and distinct cultures developed on each side, explaining the different spelling in Mexico.

Casinos have been beneficial both economically and culturally for Indians in San Diego County: There are three museums on the Barona, Rincon and Pala reservations.

In Mexico, many Indians have left their mountain villages to work in urban areas. This process has eroded their rich culture, said Wilken, who also teaches classes at San Diego State University. The anthropologist hopes the museum will help reverse the trend.

A nonprofit group called CAREM, which is dedicated to preserving the area’s culture, will operate the museum. The plan is to create two more museums nearby focused on the ranches in the area and the modern history of Tecate.

“We have a great interest in preserving the history and the culture of the region,” said Hernan Ibañez Bracamontes, a rancher and president of CAREM. “We have already lost too much of our culture.”

Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego County support the museum, including a $5,000 donation from the Barona tribe.

“It’s a good project to help preserve the Kumeyaay culture on both sides of the border,” said Louie Guassac, executive director of the Kumeyaay Border Task Force.

If you would like to see the actual articles with photos, click here: www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/may/18/past-comes-full-circle/

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flying Volaris Airlines out of Tijuana (TJ)

I thought I'd put down my thoughts on my first flight on up and coming Volaris Airlines. Even though I was flying to Acapulco for April's Tianguis Turistico travel show, I was flying out of Tijuana. I was also taking their U.S. shuttle from San Diego to the Tijuana airport.



I decided to take the red-eye on a Saturday night leaving Tijuana at 12:55am and arriving in Acapulco at 6:25am. Two factors brought me to this decision; price and a direct flight. The price was incredible ($230 USD roundtrip) and I also could pay $2 USD to select my seat which was the emergency aisle. After so many years of visiting Acapulco for the show and having to connect to a different flight in Mexico City - sometimes waiting for 3 hours - a direct flight sounded great.

After making reservations online, I also reserved the round trip cross-border shuttle from the San Diego Greyhound station, which is downtown, to the TJ airport. Cost was $15 USD. You do have to be at the bus station about 3.5 hours before your flight, but the hassle of driving to the border or having someone drive you over the border was worth it.

The bus was nice and already had passengers on it, probably from Los Angeles. We did have to make a number of stops before arriving at the airport. First as in San Ysidro, CA to pick up any passengers (none on this trip). Then we got in line to cross the border and were boarded by U.S. Customs Agents who asked questions and searched some passengers. Next were the Mexican Customs Agents just across the border (The U.S. Agents took longer - about 10 minutes total). Next we got off the bus, pushed the Pase or No Pase button, and then boarded another bus with my luggage. This part was a little confusing, but once it was done we were at the airport in about 15 minutes.

Once at the airport, I skipped check-in as I had printed out my boarding pass online (another benefit). Purchased my FMT (tourist card) for $22 USD and headed for the boarding gate. I had a hour & 1/2 wait, but the waiting area was nice.

Once on the flight, I was ecstatic to have the emergency aisle seat reserved as it had so much room I could completely stretch out my legs. I have never been on an airline with that much room. The flight took off on time and we actually got to Acapulco 20 minutes early. Normally a benefit, but not at 6am!

Lastly, the flight home was just as good, but I did have to wait for the shuttle for 35 minutes which was not so good as I was tired from the flight. Small potatoes though and overall Volaris was great. I would fly them again and they now fly from different cities in California too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Earthquake Video

If you've driven from Mexicali to San Felipe, you'll recognize this stretch of road and the mountains in the video. WOW.

7.3 Earthqauke south of Mexicali

Easter Sunday brought northern Baja and southern California quite a shake. The epicenter was some 20 miles south of Mexicali near the small farming village Guadalupe Victoria. Full reports are not in on damage and possible lives lost (2 so far in Mexico), but these pictures will give you an idea of the damage in that area of Baja.



Photo from Jorge Rivera Reyes





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Check out Villa Santa Cruz


I haven't seen it personally, but the owners sent me an email about their new property just north of Todos Santos. It's on the beach too. It seems to have everything you would want in a private hacienda-style villa; oceanfront suites, colorful tiles floors, pool and Jacuzzi, complimentary breakfast, and even a crow's nest to gather in those wonderful Todos Santos sunset or see how the surf is breaking down the beach. With four bedrooms, it's perfect for a small group or wedding party who wish to relish the peacefulness of Baja California Sur's Pacific Coast.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Hoops Team in Tijuana


Saw this article in the San Diego Union Tribune about a new basketball team in Tijuana. Love the mascot name, the Zonkeys, which is a play on the donkeys on Avenida Revolucion which are painted to look like Zebras. Gonna have to get a t-shirt.

Here's the article: Tijuana's Zonkeys hope to earn stripes

Baja 250 Video

Just received a great video from my good friend Geoff at BajaBound Insurance Services (www.bajabound.com). Makes me wish I was there.


Click on the image to see the video.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

David Hopps Wins 1st Place in Ensenada Photo Contest


Some Baja travelers to the northern coast of the peninsula, especially the Ensenada area, might have heard of The Ensenada Gazette or met Connie Ellig, owner/editor/writer of this great and informative internet newspaper. Well, if so you've either met or seen David Hopps photography work or had an animated chat with him. He and Connie are good people and doing a lot to promote Northern Baja. Congrats amigo, you deserve it.

New magazine: Mexico Weddings & Honeymoons


Although this is not exactly Baja, it does pertain the destination, especially for those who want to get married or honeymoon here. Thought I'd let you all know the first issue will be published at the end of April and you can get a free copy by emailing from the website (see the link to the right).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baja Legendary Explorer passes....

Since I consider myself a somewhat "middle to upper-middle of the road" expert on travel to Baja and information about the peninsula, I was somewhat surprised when I read the San Diego Union Tribune's obituary today (something I never do) and saw the story on this Baja expert. Sounds like one of the great Baja explorers and I wonder if any of you out there have heard of him? I hadn't.

Here's the article:

Dr. Reid Venable Moran (1916 - 2010)

Reid Moran, an explorer and scientist, spent many years traveling by mule, truck and boat to remote locations throughout Baja California in search of plant specimens. His expeditions yielded hundreds of plants from islands off Baja including Guadalupe Island, a volcanic island 250 miles south of San Diego.

His peers considered him a legend in botanical exploration. As the longtime curator of botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum, he played a key role in the museum’s growth.

Dr. Moran died of pneumonia Jan. 21 in Clearlake, where he had lived for several years. He was 93.

Anthropologist and author Jane Goodall wrote about Dr. Moran’s dedication to preserving the diversity of flora around the world. She called him “a sort of living myth in botanical exploration” and noted that he spent 48 years “studying the sequence of the destruction of (Guadalupe Island’s) flora, and the richness that yet remained.”

He described it as the most beautiful island he had known.

Dr. Moran kept extensive field notebooks documenting his travels and his botanical collections, said Judy Gibson, botany department collections manager for the Natural History Museum. He also gained a devoted following among museum members as a leader of field trips throughout Baja California.

During his 25-year tenure with the museum, Dr. Moran was instrumental in more than doubling the museum’s botanical collection from 44,000 specimens to 108,000 specimens.

In 1965, the Smithsonian Institution selected an exhibit he designed for a three-year national tour of other museums and universities. The exhibit featured a family of succulents known as Stonecrops. He had collected the succulents in California, Mexico, the Mediterranean and eastern Asia.

“He was among the very few people who really explored Baja California (in the 1950s and ’60s) when you had to travel (solely) by mule,” said Tom Oberbauer, a botanist with the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use. “He found hundreds of new species and described them. He was very detail-oriented and made meticulous notes. He was passionate about all of Baja California, but Guadalupe Island was his focal point.”

Colleagues said Dr. Moran’s strength and stamina allowed him to work in isolated areas, hiking up mountains and collecting specimens for weeks at a time.

“He was hiking through steep canyons and rough terrain when he was in his 70s,” Oberbauer said.

He didn’t mind spending a lot of time alone with his work, but he also seemed to appreciate being around people and could be the life of the party, Oberbauer said. “He had a dry sense of humor, and he liked to play the guitar and sing songs.”

Dr. Moran was a longtime member of the San Diego Folk Song Society and had an interest in Australian and English folk songs.

In addition to writing about his findings, Dr. Moran became adept at photographing his collections, and many of his photos have been part of his exhibits.

Reid Venable Moran was born June 30, 1916, in Los Angeles to Edna Louise Venable and Robert Breck Moran. He grew up in Pasadena, and his interest in botany started in childhood.

He earned a degree in biology from Stanford University in 1939, a master’s degree in botany from Cornell University in 1942 and a doctorate from the University of California Berkeley in 1951.

He served in the Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946 as a flight navigator. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after his aircraft was shot down over Yugoslavia during World War II. He and the rest of the crew completed their bombing mission before being ordered to bail out of their damaged B-24. They parachuted into German-controlled territory but were able to escape unharmed.

He married the former Ellen Boersma in the 1980s. The couple divorced a few years later.

Dr. Moran is survived by a daughter, Jenna of Washington, D.C.; a stepson, Matthew Boersma of Santa Rosa; a sister, Katharine “Kaki” Cashman of Reno; and several nieces and nephews.

No services are scheduled. Dr. Moran’s remains were to be cremated and scattered off Baja California.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hwy 1 devasted by winter storms!


As most of you know, Baja's Highway 1 is the singular track stretching the length of the peninsula. In many points, there are either bridges that span dry arroyos or dips that lower down and cross through them. Well, with the storms of last week (Jan. 18-23), the northern half of the region (Ensenada south to Vizcaino) received so much rain that this arroyos became raging rivers and toppled at least 7 bridges and destroyed many sections of the highway. It could be months before all the bridges are fixed. But with that said, the Baja people are hard workers and will have bypasses through the arroyos as soon as the water let's up. Will be a slower ride down the peninsula that's for sure. Check out this image from my friend Antonio, the owner of Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario.


Bridge at El Rosario missing a section

Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Wave Event back on at Killers!

Received any email from my friend Geoff at Bajabound Insurance that the big wave surf contest at Todos Santos island's Killer's surf break will be held between Feb. 1-28. Isla de Todos Santos is just off Ensenada, although you would not be able to view it from the shoreline, gotta take a boat out. The way it works is that the organizers figure out when the biggest swells will be coming in (can you say 50ft!) and open the competition in a 72 hour window for the surfers. Check out www.todossantosevent.com for more information.

Taylor Knox during the Reef Todos, 1998