Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Biola in Baja 2009

We left Biola at 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Janyary 4 with 12 students and 6 staff i 4 vans (2 passenger, 2 cargo). We arrived in Colonia Vincente Guerrero (our first campsite)at 3:30 p.m.
Set up camp and had a great spaghetti dinner and discussion about the day's events arround the campfire.

Left at 8:30 the next morning for the desert near Catavina. Stopped at the wave cut terraces south of San Quintin and in the Vizcaino desert for lunch. Camped in the beautiful rock desert north of Catavina.
Sunset at Catavina
Weather is clear, but cold at night. Spent Tuesday morning exploring the desert and on a plant walk with Karen and then up to the Indian cave to contemplate cave paintings over 900 years old. Arrived in Bahia de Los Angeles at 4 p.m. Nice calm bay and our home away from home, the Vermilion Sea Field Station. Spent today (Wednesday the 7th) on a town walk, reading Annie Dillard, working on journals and getting ready for our camping trip tomorrow.
The Vermilion Sea Field Station

We are sorry to be so long in catching up with the blog. The internet down here leave much to be desired. So here is a summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

January 8, 2009

After spending a day and two nights at the Vermilion Sea Field Station, we packed up and headed south. First stop, a desert plant walk near Punta Prieta and then on to Guerrero Negro for our traditional fish taco lunch. Tacos Henry is now closed so we enjoyed Tony’s Fish Taco stand on the main street. A bumpy drive on the road through the salt marsh to the old salt piers gave us plenty of birds to identify. We completed the day by driving the 90 miles down to the beautiful oasis village of San Ignacio where we camped among the date palms.

January 9, 2009
We spent the day in San Ignacio beginning with a bird walk down to the lakes and then the afternoon up on the bluff overlooking the village and down in the village visiting shops and the mission, Mission San Ignacio de Kadakaman, built in 1728.

Mission San Ignacio de Kadakaman

January 10-14, 2009
We drove 100 miles south to our favorite camping spot, Coyote beach in Bahia Concepcion. On the way we stopped in Santa Rosalia to view the Eiffel church and sample the baked goods at the world famous Panaderia El Boleo.
Setting up camp and tents on the beach at Coyote was an hilarious adventure. One of the campers who was already there informed students who were pitching tents on the beach near the high tide mark that the tide would be 8 feet higher tonight than the night before. Thus began “The Trench”. An excellent way to let off pent up energy, it was dug some 75 feet long and 2 feet deep in order to keep the sea water from floating the tents away in the middle of the night. (also known as the “Dan Callis Effect”) Digging the Dan Callis Memorial Trench
Waiting for high tide.
The sand that was dug out was used as a berm in front of the tents. It worked! Much to the joy and triumph of the excavators.
The tents are saved from the high tide!
We spent 5 nights camped on the beach with daily trips to outlying locations. A day trip 70 miles south to the town of Loreto, Baja’s first capital to see it’s oldest mission, Mission Nuestra Senora de Loreto, built in 1699.
Mission Nuestra Senora de Loreto

Two trips into Mulege to visit the mission, Mission Santa Rosalia de Mulege, built in 1705Mission Santa Rosalia de Mulege

and down the bumpy road along Rio Mulege to the lighthouse and rocky beach. The flood two and a half years ago really affected the environment and the economy of the village, but they are slowly recovering. We read and discussed the Introduction to Steinbeck's Log From the Sea of Cortez.

January 15-16, 2009
Thursday we drove back through Santa Rosalia (another panaderia stop) and on to San Ignacio where we had made arrangements with Kuyima Ecotourismo to go whalewatching on Laguna San Ignacio on Friday morning.
We camped among the date palms again where Amy tried the native treeclimbing technique.We got up early for “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride” down to the lagoon. What a beautiful, sunny, no wind day! There were only 10-15 whales in the lagoon, but our panga drivers were expert in putting us near them. Whale watchers & whale flipper
One boat saw a cow-calf pair and a mating frenzy (this IS a biology class), and the others spent much of the time with two whales who were feeding in the shallows (6 feet deep) on their sides with their pectoral flippers waving in the air. They would spend a couple minutes feeding and than turn upright, spout and return to their sides for more muddy breakfast food (bottom dwelling invertebrates).
The return ride back from the lagoon proved just as bumpy as the trip down. We continued the 100 miles north to Guerrero Negro. Karen and Ted took the class out to the salt company evaporation ponds while Rafe birded the town park. We we too late for Tony’s fish tacos, so settled on dinner out and camped at Malarrimo’s
Salt pond highjinks.
January 17, 2009
A casual travel day 125 miles back to Bahia de Los Angeles and the Vermilion Sea Field Station to be greeted by our friends Lane and Janet McDonald. Rafe did a power point lecture on bird feeding strategies using photos of Baja birds for examples.
A good night’s sleep on nice station cots.

January 18, 2009
Sunday, another gorgeous day in paradise! A day for the disciplines of solitude and silence followed by a wonderful worship service planned by the class. The afternoon was spent studying for the dreaded plant test scheduled for tomorrow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

They're Off!

Dan Callis and I (see posts from previous years to see who we are) surprised Rafe and Karen this morning by dropping by at 6am to see them off for this year’s Baja class. They’ll be updating the blog as they are able over the next three weeks—if you don’t see a post for a while, don’t worry, they just haven’t had access to a computer!

In the meantime, here’s a map so you can try to figure out where they happen to be on any given day. (You can click on the map for a larger--and readable--image.) Tonight they’ll be camping near San Quintin, tomorrow on to Catavina, and then on to Bahia de los Angeles, their home away from home for the class.

As for Dan and me? We’re in Alta California working! Oh well, maybe next year we’ll be able to free up our schedules and go back to Baja.