S: Baja Buddies
BC: We are forever grateful to the Gray Whales of Baja California... and, yes, we know we are some very blessed humans who got to share some of the best times of our lives with these spectacular beings.
FC: Baja Buddies and others along the way | March 2013
1: Sometimes you just know. You just know there is a journey that you have to make in spite of some people shaking their heads in disapproval. Oh their intentions are well-meaning as they are just trying to minimize your risks in life. Others cheer you on and express envy over such a "daring" thing to do. Still you begin to question your judgment even though you just can't let go of the notion of doing it. But when your best friend agrees to travel across most of the United States to join you on an adventure to the unknown, you know you have chosen the right path to take.....a chance to explore a new view of the horizon in a world of disappearing frontiers. You believe you will see and experience God's creations in a brighter light. That we did... and we will never be the same. Thank you to my buddy Cheryl ..and to all the people along the way who shared the trip...and to the Gray Whales who have taken over our hearts forever in the enchanting lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. ~ Susan Kline ~
2: Here we go! | Our Quadruple Whale Watching Safari March 18 - March 23, 2013 Andiamo Travel
3: The night before leaving for Baja, we practiced ordering and eating Mexican food in San Diego. Cheryl had a reunion there with her dear friend Donna. We met and were entertained by the stories of Bill...Donna's sweetie. Channel Island naturalist and Baja traveler Debbie willingly joined us in our first of many O-H-I-O moments.
4: Susan and tour leader Eric Zimmerman
5: We needed a bus and a great driver(Andreas)...got both from Andiamo Tours. We were off!
6: Shortly after we crossed the border and arrived in Ensenada, we started eating...with entertainment.
7: There always was plenty of food and "beverage"..sometimes we weren't quite sure what we were eating, but no one lost weight. Prickly pears... Scallops... Mexican Eggs... White Sea Bass... Cake from goat's milk...
8: A King Bird became an along- the-way buddy at our stop at the San Vicente Community Museum and mission.
9: And...our first night accommodations in San Quintin were a most pleasant surprise.
10: How could you not love San Quintin? We were on the beach with zillions of sand dollars. There was a very pleasant feeling of isolation...as if this place was just for us.
11: Cheryl left a beach message for Wayne
12: Sticking together... but away from stickers in our first desert walk.
14: After our enjoyable desert exploration, we headed to peaceful Cataviña for lunch.
15: Later that day we arrived in Guerrero Negro where we got our first good look at an Osprey taking care of its young one in a nest made of anything including plastic...and many more creative objects and scraps. | And ,after our tour leaders got permission from the armed soldiers (our hotel was next to the military barracks), we were able to take photos of the gray whale skeleton but only from one angle.
16: After a good meal, tasty margaritas and a good night's sleep in Guerrero Negro, we headed out the next morning to enjoy the bird aviary/preserve and the old salt works. Clam shells were everywhere.
18: Right from the get go, there were eight of us who became the whale pirates. We were a motley crew that stuck together on each of the four journeys on the lagoons...a private panga yacht club,if you will. Singing Jingle Bells, splashing all the way.. nearly falling out of the boat... we held the record for whale hands on encounters. Whales came to us! Cheryl hollered in any Spanish she knew most of the time if she wasn't singing. | At last...Whale Time!
19: The Whale Pirates | Beth | Cheryl | Debbie | Susan | Lee | Tammy | Dave | Kim
20: Enjoying our first excursion to meet and greet the whales....we became quite familiar with the "back view" of our fellow whale pirates on our adventures.
21: Scammon's Lagoon
22: Our Oasis for two evenings...was the Desert Inn at San Ignacio. Our first night there, we were entertained by some of the town's students. Of course we had margaritas and tostadas...and shared our whale stories from our first whale encounters earlier in the day.
23: One would be hard pressed to find a more peaceful place.
24: Luka...our fabulous Andiamo guide | Luka, Susan, Cheryl and Eric, our naturalist | Ospreys everywhere!
25: Our trip to San Ignacio Lagoon was a bumpy, lengthy van ride on desert washboard ripples of a road. It was worth it!. After an indoctrination, we prepared for our adventure. We spent a couple of hours out with the whales, came back to the beach for lunch...then back out with the whales for more hands on and kisses (I kid you not). In case you wonder, the whales are soft and very pleasant to touch...kind of like wet velvet. | After our first night's rest in San Ignacio,we are joyously with the whales again!
26: San Ignacio Lagoon | Cheryl was ready to go overboard to join them!
27: The Ohio Alumni Whale Pirates
28: After our exhilarating morning and afternoon at the Lagoon, we boarded our vans and headed back to San Ignacio...the bumps on the desert roadway couldn't dampen our adrenalin-filled spirits after such a life-changing day experiencing the whales. We walked from our hotel to town and celebrated our day with good food and good company at a local eatery noted for its fresh seafood...especially scallops.
29: So hard to leave San Ignacio the next morning, but the good news was that we were headed back to Guerrero Negro and Scammon's Lagoon for more whale encounters. Indeed, once again the Whale Pirates interacted with gray whale moms and calves.
30: Our bus ride north from Guerrero Negro to Cataviña was supposed to be about 5 hours..it was quite a bit longer than that due to very interesting and somewhat intimidating military checkpoints. Due to the skill of our guide Luka and a low-cut blouse on our endowed assistant guide Anna, we had minimal inconvenience. Only the "young ones" like Cheryl had to get off the bus to open luggage. Window Whales by Cheryl and Susan Earlier Luka had us all make origami whales to put on the bus windows so we would look more touristy. Plus she instructed us to look ill or very tired. That saved many of us from getting off the bus.
31: We got another nature walk in to see the Elephant Trees...even though it meant Andreas would be driving the bus to Cataviña after dark. We all were on alert for burros, cows and any other critters on the road. We arrived late, but safe and sound at our Hotel Desert Inn in Cataviña.
32: Once we arrived in Cataviña, it was time to celebrate the whales, birthdays and just the joy of being on such a great trip.
33: We all tried lingering in Cataviña the next morning as long as we could, but there was a long ride ahead of us to the U. S. border. That crossing to the U.S. would be a very time consuming happening for us....all standing in long lines for close to 3 hours dragging our belongings with us inch by inch....back to "civilization"...
34: But there still was more adventure along the way including a farewell luncheon in a resort in San Quintin. And shortly after leaving Cataviña, we climbed some of the famous boulders in the area and explored some cave paintings.
35: And of course there was once again the opportunity for those Ohio folks!