Sunday, April 24, 2016

I forgot to report on our border crossing experience when returning to the US

I had heard stories about Charlie being pulled over for secondary inspection and having to unpack the truck and open every bin on his return a previous Baja trip. When we finally got to the border guard we handed over our passports. Fio included her green card since she has an Italian passport. I included my new Global Entry card with my passport and noticed the guard scanned the card rather than my passport. I would like to think my being a "known traveler" contributed to our getting waived through after asking what was in the truck. But when I asked Charlie how often he got sent to secondary inspection, it turns out it hasn't happened that often. The time he had to unpack everything was when he was crossing the border alone and thus might have appeared more suspicious being a lone traveler with so much gear. So the time it took us to cross the border was an hour and a half waiting in line and less than a minute with the border guard.

border crossing line that took an hour and a half 

lots of last minute shopping opportunities while waiting in line to cross the border

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Follow-up on Baja trip

First let me say thanks to Fio, Charlie, and Brock for including me on this trip. I really appreciated the opportunity to visit Baja with a team that is so experienced and knows the language.

Since returning I spent some time cleaning up the blog posts. I reduced the size of the photos so they don't bleed over to cover text in the column on the right. I also added captions to all the photos. Both of these things I was not able to do using the Blogger app on my iPad.

Next I wanted to post a short video that I didn't dare try to upload while dealing with limited Internet access in Baja. This is just a 5 second clip to give you an idea of how much the wind was blowing around the sand in La Bocana.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baja tarp has been retired

All the gear in the back of the truck is covered with a tarp. While it helps keep things dry should it rain, its more common function is to keep down the amount of dirt and sand that gets into everything when driving the back roads and beaches of Baja. The tarp started to develop tears part way through the trip, and by the time we got back to Hopkins it was only covering about half the bins. When we unpacked the truck yesterday, Charlie place the tarp in the dumpster. Cheryl will be ordering a new one before the next road trip to Baja.

Ripped tarp at the end of our road trip

A night in Ensenada

We left El Rosario around 5 pm and drove up to Ensenada. We tried to stop at the Santo Tomas winery, but they had already closed by the time we arrived.

After checking into our hotel, we went looking for a place to eat. The same winery has a store front in Ensenada, but it too was already closed. After many hours in the truck, we decided to search for a restaurant on foot. We found a very nice place and all ordered the night's specials. I had the fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp. Everyone else had the ribeye steak. The specials started with a nice fresh salad and also included a glass of wine and a brownie with ice cream for dessert. The specials were priced at 250 pesos which is about $15 US. Quite a deal.

Below is a photo of the Corona Hotel & Spa where we stayed. I forgot to take a photo of the hotel, so I grabbed this one off the web. They brought in a roll-away bed so the three guys could share one room. Charlie very generously offered to take the roll-away. Previously I had been sleeping sitting up as it was the only position where my shoulder didn't hurt. I appreciated having the queen size bed since I was finally able to lay down and get a good night's sleep.

Corona Hotel & Spa in Ensenada

Not many photos for my foodie friends

I'm afraid I didn't take many food photos on this trip. I don't think I ever had a bad meal, and the quantities were often huge. I kept looking to order things that might provide a smaller portion size, but usually was unsuccessful in my attempt.

I ate a lot of fish and other seafood, which was great. When we were in La Cobana we tried to get in the water early before the winds picked up so we were leaving  shore just about the time the restaurant started serving breakfast. Knowing this, we ordered food to go the night before. They provided us with smoked fish burritos which turned out to be one of my favorite meals. Another favorite were the crab quesas I had at Mama Espinoza's restaurant in El Rosario. I had been told how wonderful the crab was at this place, but they had been out of it until our very last meal there.

Below is a picture of one of our dinners in the restaurant on Isla Natividad. Here we were served two huge dishes of ceviche. One was fish which was good, but the second was lobster which was phenomenal. It was quickly devoured.

Ceviche lunch on Isla Natividad

Monday, April 18, 2016

The dives I didn't make

The team just returned from the two early morning dives off Isla San Geronimo. I gather conditions weren't much better than our earlier dives. At one site there was a strong current, and at the other there was a large swell. Despite the conditions they got everything installed. So while I wouldn't wish poor diving conditions on anyone, at least I don't regret not being able to dive today. They did see gray whales during the boat ride to the island.

While they were gone I took some interior photos of our motel and also an exterior shot of the restaurant next door where we have been eating.

Here is our bedroom with two queen size beds downstairs and two single beds in the loft.

The "boys" bedroom with loft in the Baja Cactus Motel
Below is the bathroom sink area outside the room with the toilet and a very nice walk in shower. I really like the Mexican tiles used in the shower, the tall glass door, and the built in sitting area on the side opposite the shower head. I need to remodel my bathroom at home and this gave me some ideas to consider.

Sink and shower stall in Baja Cactus Motel

Mama Espinoza's restaurant is right next door.

Mama Espinoza's Restaurant in El Rosario

Back at the Baja Cactus in El Rosario

Yesterday afternoon we returned to El Rosario which is our final field site before returning home. As with Isla Natividad and La Bocana, a couple hours were spent training local divers how to open the miniDO2Ts, download the data, and then re-set them for re-deployment. The goal is to eventually turn over the operation to the locals, and they will just send the data back to Fio, Brock, and Charlie.

miniDO2T training session at COBI in El Rosario
Early this morning some of the local divers went out with our team to observe the deployment operation at two sites off Isla San Geronimo. Unfortunately I strained my left shoulder and decided I needed to sit out today's two dives. This is a major bummer.

If everything goes as planned, we should be checking out of the Baja Cactus Motel this afternoon and will probably spend tonight in Ensenada and face crossing the border on Tuesday morning.