Day 1: San Diego to El Golfo Beach Camp


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The Trip

Day 1 was a reasonable day of travel and would take us from San Diego to east of El Golfo in northern Sonora, MX. We started at 0430 to beat the incoming tide along the beach route. It would take us only 5.5 hours to get from San Diego to our chosen camp about 30 miles east of El Golfo.

Our route took us out Interstate 8 from San Diego to the Mexicali East Border entrance, then south along MX Hwy 5; east on BCN 4 crossing the border with Sonora, then south on Son40 to El Golfo. From El Golfo, we would follow the beach for about 30 miles to our camp site.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw. These shots are reduced from the full size of the digital camera to 800 pixels wide in deference to those readers that do not have "full size" screens. Nearly all of the shots came from my Canon 1DsMark2 digital SLR.

The early start got us to the Mexicali thermal energy area around 9am. Here, you can see the plumes of steam from the various generation plants. As of this writing, 20080225, there were a series of 5+ earthquakes centered on this vent.

We arrived at the small pueblo of Murguia in the mid-morning and decided to stop for tacos from a road-side vendor. This is a shot looking up the street to the sign announcing the border of Sonora with Baja California. Kai can be seen sitting at the taco bar on the left.

My 1300L parked on the main street for the amusement of the locals.

We got tacos de Cabeza and they were awesome. They were only a buck each and oh-so-tasty!

In another hour or so , we arrived in El Golfo where we hit the Pemex to top off on diesel. From there, it was on to the pescaderia to get fresh shrimp and clams for our dinner.

Main street, El Golfo, Sonora, Mexico. With the arrival of the new highway to Puerto Penasco, it's likely that the "old El Golfo" will soon fade away.

There are quite a bunch of Gringos and Canadians that come to El Golfo to camp on the beach for extended intervals. Here, we passed one of them on their dirt bike with paddle tires. These paddles throw great geysers of sand in their wake.

The beach to the east of El Golfo is teeming with bird life. This is a huge flock of pelicans between sorties of fishing.

Due to the high tide, we had to take the cliff road to get to the camp. Here, Kai rounds one of the several headlands that are on this route. If we had mis-calculated on the timing of our transit, we would have been trapped against the cliffs. Conversely, if you miss that turn, it is a long, long way down the cliff.

On the beach, we passed this expired great whale shark. Note the spots on the skin.

I am reasonably literate, but I can assure you that I know of no word in the English language that can fully describe this smell. The "s-word" is not even close to being adequate to embody the full essence of the experience. After shooting this shot, we evacuated the scene at high speed to keep from gagging! Note the vitreous humor dripping from the eyes giving the impression of tears.

We arrived at camp shortly after the shark encounter. Here, we prepare to unload and raise the top. The basket performed well; I was pleased.

From our camp on the dunes above the beach, we had a commanding view of the area to the east. Note the lighthouse on the point. It was impossible to get to the lighthouse most of the time due to the river feeding the salt flat just to the left, out of the photo; it was either filling or draining, but rarely neither. The mouth of the river is visible in the center of the photo.

We admire the waves at high tide and participate in alcohol therapy. Driving in Mexico is tense, for a variety of reasons. A beer when you arrive at the destination is a welcome event!

Randy's son back in San Diego scored a big box of "cutoffs". Here, Kai chops the planks into smaller pieces for the evening fire.

Dinner for the evening was steamed clams and grande shrimp on the griddle for shrimp burritos. We did not go hungry, that is for sure! Unlike previous trips we did finish it all. Above, the group de-veins shrimp prior to grilling.

After dark, the wind picked up significantly. Here, you can see the blowing smoke. Sadly, there was no sunset as the clouds on the leading edge of a front blocked the horizon.

Captain Morgan held a court marshall and one person was convicted. Here, the sentence was carried out with extreme prejudice.

Despite the near-excessive indulgence by several of the group, no significant, permanent damage was done. Even Kathleen was up early with a breakfast beer. Here, she thinks she is providing useful guidance to the breakfast team.

The volcanic area to the east of our camp is called Los Pinacates. Pinacatl is the Aztec name for the beatle that inhabits the dunes and beach areas. Most gringos call them "stink bugs". Name notwithstanding, our spilled red wine from the night before attracted the beatles in droves. They congregated in large groups and sucked up the spilt wine. Alcohol, it would seem, has a similar effect on both insects and humans.

Every crevice in the sand had crews of beatles hard at work burying eggs after their breeding frenzy.

One of our usual crew, Roberto Espinoza, had to drop out at the last second. But, his wife, Adriana, had already prepared breakfast for the group. Roberto was kind enough to send his food on vacation, even though he could not attend. We had chililiques, spiced pork and beans with tortillas. It was excellent, thanks Adriana!

We had a full day in the beach camp, so Kathleen and I made pork chili verde. We got the recipe from our dutch oven cook book and it was excellent. We ate the leftovers with scrambled eggs and tortillas for breakfast at Guadalupe Canyon. The chili verde was not "hard" to cook, but it was tedious. It is more than 6 hours from start to finish including dicing of the meat, browning and simmering. The good news is that most of that time does not require intervention, only waiting.

A front moves in and the winds get stronger. This is a view of the small fish camp to the west of our camp site.

Except for the strong winds, it was a fine afternoon. Here a flock of pelicans head down the coast on their way to dinner.

A view of Kai's tent-cot on the cliff overlooking the beach.

A not-so-straight view out the door of our camper to the sea. Front door views don't get much better than this!

At the end of the second day on the beach, we were treated to a nice sunset with the clouds of the passing front providing the drama.

The skies became crystal clear after the passage of the front. As an added bonus, the moon was full providing a great scene and much light.

We had a pretty easy day. Kai and Randy went for a small drive past the salt mine and Kathleen and I made chili verde and enjoyed the view. It was nice to have a down day. Tomorrow, we will break camp and head to Canyon de Guadalupe and its hot springs.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.