Day 163 Leaving Baja

An Unexpected Journey

Jan 17


The next day, Sunday, I drove back to the ferry dock and found the mystery second ferry company which was located at the back of the terminal surrounded by dozens of semi trucks. The woman spoke very fast Spanish with a very strong accent and I had a hard time understanding her and she didn’t speak any English. I was able to get across that I wanted a ticket for Sunday to Topolobamba. She said the same thing the last ticket agent did about weighing in before buying my ticket and pointed me toward the scales.scale I took care of that, went back to the ticket counter and bought my ticket. She told me the times I had to report for lining up, when they load and when they sail. I was still confused… some how things weren’t adding up so wrote it down to show her. I said, “Ok, the ferry leaves at 11pm Sunday so I have to be in line at 9pm. She said, “Yes.”  Me, “So I have to be back here tomorrow at 6pm.”  She looked surprised, “No, you can’t leave now you have to stay, you leave tonight.” Oh dear. I’d bought a ticket for that night not the following week and I couldn’t leave the compound. It was only 10am.  She said, “no problem,” and pointed to the large building and explained that I could buy food and use the bathroom.

At first we felt like we were in prison



But the poodles and I made ourselves at home. There was space enough to put the slider out a little and we hung out for the day. I was extremely grateful that I had packed everything up and paid the campground before leaving. I had to just chalk this up to, “ it was meant to be” and “maybe understanding a little more Spanish will get me a log farther.”  Sometimes we’re not in control of our own agendas.

The day passed slowly and trucks loaded and left.  I was certain that my load time was at 6pm but I wasn’t sure how I’d know where to go… would I get in the wrong line and get on the wrong ferry? I had to keep worry out of my mind and repeated my mantra of “ what’s the worst thing that can happen? Start to load on the wrong boat? They’ll stop you. Miss your sailing? You buy another ticket. So we sat until dark. The only other non-semi in the lot was a small tour bus that parked next to me. I went over to him and asked him if he was going to Topolobambo and he said yes. Excellent! I had someone to follow.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So at 6:15 when his lights went on and he started to move I was right behind him. It seemed that we parked in a very random spot next to the mouth of the ferry. He kept his lights and engine running, I turned mine off and waited. Trucks came and went some pulling past me and dropping off their containers others turning around and re-parking next to or behind me. It was a dark chaotic blur of lights, diesel fumes and black rushing shadows. Finally about 8pm the bus in front of me pulled forward and onto the ferry. I pulled ahead into his spot and waited. Small Truck cabs ( i call them worker cabs) were rushing back and forth linking up to the containers and loading them onto the ferry. The freight was then followed by its accompanying semi cab. Someone came to my window and asked me to move aside, he needed to get his truck past me (expressed mostly by hand gesticulations but also in spanish) He had to shout over the cacophony of engines and I used that as an excuse for his to repeat things.  I maneuvered the camper up and around the cab beside me. The man in another cab motioned with his hands to help guide me. The worker cabs were busy rushing back and forth and semis were zipping around me…. Lights blinding. The man came back and motioned for me to go back to my original spot.  I remembered how to ask, “Isn’t it better to say here?” and just as he said no, one of the worker cabs started moving directly at me headlights on high beam and blinding. I was sitting in front of the container he wanted to move. I was trying desperately to move forward enough move in reverse but the worker cab meant business, they had a schedule to keep, and he was inches away  from the front of the truck as I made the final turn out of the way. The truck driver who’d been helping me yelled out, “Buena Mujer!!” What a woman! help

It was finally our time to get packed in. The attendant had me entered the ferry front-first, unlike all the trucks who backed in, and then mounted a lift that took us to the second level of the ferry.


Directing me onto the ferry


Truck ahead moving onto the lift that will take us to the second level


The Hydraulics of the Lift. Click here to see what it was like. NOTE HOW CALM TINTIN IS… what a girl!

We were finally directed into our spot, chained down and I took a long deep breath. We were done and I took a sleeping pill ready to let the rocking of the ship put me to sleep. . It was 10pm before the ferry left dock but I was already drifting away. The poodles and I had had a long day and we will have a long day of driving tomorrow.


Foxy tucked in tight for the night (taken the next morning)


Day 156 Que Es Esto #4

¿Que Es Esto?

Jan 10

I found this creature ‘crawling’ under a rock in a tide pool. I remembered it’s name from childhood, but I was completely wrong in my memory about ‘who they were.’ Do you know?

 Scroll down⇓


The one I found was about an inch and a half long and moved along at a rapid pace…. Here, I’ll show you click here:


This garment has the same name…. hint hint


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Any ideas? How about if I tell you that they’re not related to trilobites (which is what I thought).

¿Que Es Esto?….. find out…..

Day 154 Stalking the Wild Cat’s Claw

Wild Edibles[odDec 8


Click on this picture to read more about this very interesting plant.

On the beach near our campspot I ran into a strange vine. I first noticed the pods because one grabbed me around the ankle. It was a very imprssive beast with some very sharp claws.

Had I known at the time I could eat both the seeds and ochre like pod I would have been able to cook them up with the trigger fish. I thought it looked pretty tasty but I’m not one to eat unidentified vegetation without someone else try it first.  At the time I was more interested in collecting the odd pod heads for my sister. She has her own eccentricities and while I eat the plants I find along side the sidewalk she makes them into sculpture.

Apparently the seeds that spring out of the pod (above) are nutty and sweet and the fruit (below) can be steamed or fried like orca.  This plant has a long and valued history with the native people who used the fruit and seeds for food and the fibers of the plant for weaving.


I’ve been interested in what you can eat off the ground since I was a toddler when the ‘5 second rule’ became established protocol. That behavior was supported when as a pre-teen when I discovered the recipes from Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus  

I admit it. I’ve always been a geek.

In highschool I made acorn muffins, cattail stew (the plant not the animial) and yellow birch tea and as an adult I’ve finally graduated from stalking organisms from the plant to the animal kingdom.  Today I caught and ate my first fish. Ok, so I didn’t actually catch it, Nickel did… and well ok she didn’t actually catch it. Basically I haven’t graduated from  scavenging to the hunting yet.


There was a storm out in the Gulf last night and the high tide came in fast and furious. The next day when the poodles and I hit the beach for our morning constitutional, we found quite a number of marine animals washed up on shore. You’ll be happy to know it wasn’t the pacific grebe or gull that we collected for supper but a freshly beached fish. I guess we’ve come up in the world! There were a number of species to choose from, there were several porcupine fish, a cornonet fish and a trigger fish. The triggerfish was still alive so I threw it back into the water. Sadly despite it’s weak attempts to swim away, the tide kept bringing it back in. One final time and Nickel decided that throwing away good food was just not acceptable and went in to retrieve it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I realize the poor thing was doomed and I decided that I might as well see whether all those filleted triggerfish I’d found on the beach in Loreto would lived up to their apparent reputation so I bagged it. I hate totell you, but it wasn’t quite dead and I didn’t’ know what to do about it. I decided the most merciful thing was to kill it outright so I hit it in the head with a rock.



Fine Scale Triggerfish, Balistes polylepis

Of course I didn’t have internet access to guide me along in this new culinary endeavor, but having seen enough  triggerfish on the beaches in Loreto, I at least knew they were edible and had an idea about where to begin. filleted

dinnerI’ve never fillet a fish before but I’ve watched enough So-You-Want-To-Humiliate-Yourself-Trying -o-Cook Reality TV shows that I felt confident in giving it a try. Now that I’ve watched this YouTube clip, I realize where I first went wrong and I shouldn’t have removed the skin before cutting the meat off the bones, but at least I had the basic area of the fish properly dissected out. diner4I didn’t actually end up with two fillets, more like trigger tartar, but I did ended up with enough fish for dinner although most of the prime meat went into the boiling pot for the poodles. I’m always satisfied when everything can be used so I boiled the entire fish for the dogs . dinner2I suppose I felt a strangesense of responsibility in making sure this fish’s death was meaningful and worthwhile.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt least that’s what TinTin was telling me.

…………………………………………………………Tomorrow we go snorkeling

Day 153 What ever happened to the saying: Don’t shit where you eat?

As the Late Joan Rivers Said, “Can we talk?”

Dec Jan 7


Enhanced shadow photo

I was eaten alive by either sand fleas or no-see-ums last night. The small red welts that multiplied over my arms and legs kept me up with insane itching. Unable to sleep and too tired to read I ruminated over my morning ritual of garbage clean-up.

I had decided that for every free day of camping I should pick up a garbage bag full of trash and considering the state of this beach I’ll be staying for a while.



When doing this sort of thing day in and day out you become intimate with certain aspects of the beach goer’s culinary preferences. For instance I know that a favorite dish is cooked clams and corn-on-the-cob anointed with hot sauce out of little plastic bags. They use Styrofoam plates and prefer to sip their beverages from plastic cups rather than straight from the bottle.  I guess I’ve become the connaisseur of consumption.

  Nickel doing her best to help the cause

nickvsvultureNickel knows that the mess isn’t just created by ‘litter bugs.’  The trash barrels are scavenged by turkey vultures, seagulls and dogs and the wind plays a roll in scattering it further.   But it’s not so much the general trash build-up on the beach that frustrates me it’s the thoughtless despot of human waste and toilet paper.

It’s not surprising that after consuming copious amounts of food and drink sooner or later one has to ‘go’ and the locals have established pit toilets for that use.  While not the most ecological or sanitary of solutions it does seem to keep things contained and tidy.  Evidenced by the flora cascading out of the buckets, the mixture of desiccated waste and the occasional desert rains render the technique effective.



(and yes I wear gloves)

I find it interesting that many of the plastic and styrofoam items are in the process of decay in one form or another but the paper products (mostly toilet paper but the occasional paper towel) were unaffected by decomposition.  I’m guessing that the plastics fall apart due to intense UV light.  They’d break into millions of pieces when I tried to extract them from the sand unlike the TP that remains in its entirety.

If you anticipated that the paper products wouldn’t fall apart due to the desert environment, you’re probably right but it’s not just in dry climates that toilet paper hangs around.  During this trip I’ve found plenty of toilet paper litter in the wet areas like northern US and Canada.  Yes, this is a global problem.  I even found undigested toilet paper in one of the burned out forests of the Northwest Territories, a place where the forest fire exploded trees and melted rock.  It’s disgraceful.

It wasn’t the pit toilets that offended me, it was the plethora of wads of TP poking their heads out of the sand across the beach that wouldn’t let me rest.


It particularly surprises me that anyone wouldn’t think about the ramifications of burying a wad o-paper in the sand on a windy desert beach where it can be easily unburied by the shifting sand and where it obviously  just doesn’t go away. Seeing the evidence all around them why do these people go ahead and  poop and then bury the paper like cats in a dirty litter box. With the number of people making visits to this sandy powder room how much *$%(^$¡♠& can a beach support?


A small drop in the bucket…. litterally (get it?)




 So let me say, dear people…

Please Dispose Of Your Toilet Paper in an Appropriate Manner. It’s not that hard.

There are two simple ways to handle TP in the great outdoors:

  1. You bring a lighter and after wiping your bum you burn (the paper).
  2. You bring a zip-lock bag and neatly pack it out with you.  If you think this sounds gross let me tell you that finding your used paper everywhere isn’t pleasant either. Line your zip-lock with paper towels and you don’t even have to look at the icky contents (your contents).

When I climbed McKinley we pooped in zip-lock bags and brought the entire contents back down the mountain with us (20,000 feet) for proper disposal. I’m not asking you to bring everything…. Just bury your waste at a proper depth and bring the paper part out with you.

 I’ll reiterate here that this isn’t just a local-person’s-issue it’s also the campers who are coming through and using the beach.


 If you’re sick of my pictures of toilet paper, good.  That was my goal.

 SO.  What do TP and poo have to do with sand fleas and no-see-ums? Nothing. Except the thought of them all keeps me awake at night..


Es Esto…. #3

Es esto un Pez Erizo Pecoso

If you guessed a porcupine fish…. You were RIGHT!


One of Mother Nature’s practical jokes

You might think that the poodles’ mom didn’t want us being eaten because of all those spines but it’s not just that. Some of us carry a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. is 1200x more potent than cyanide.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this fish. I found that many sources were mistaken by saying that the porcupine fish is the same as a puffer, burrfish, blowfish and or ballonfish by basing their criteria on the fact that they puff-up when frightened . In fact they are all related, coming from the same family, but they are not one in the same. I wont go into great detail about what sets these fish apart but I will give you links so you can explore for yourself.

I found these three to be the best sources:


 So how did I come to the conclusion that these were porcupines and not puffers, blow, burr, box, globe, balloon or hedgehog fish? It came down to two last identifying features:

  1. “unlike the pufferfishes, they have only a single plate of fused teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws.”
  2. “The porcupinefish is larger than the balloonfish, with a wider head, and has small black spots that cover the body and fins. The skin of the balloonfish is dominated by larger spots or dark blotches that occur only on the body, not on the fins.”

 Who knew?!

Porcupine fish are also related to our old friend the trigger fish


The story behind this picture coming soon….

and the enormous Sunfish that can grow up to over 5000 pounds!


Click here to read more about this gigantic fish

They all coming from the same order:  Tetraodontiformes

Porcupine fish are considered catch-and-release for obvious reasons


Fishing without rod at sunrise

Day 152 All the way from Loreto to Juncalito

Loreto to Juncalito

Dec 6


Paola Guadalupe Bailon Cisneros and her extended family.

Before leaving Loreto the poodles and I took one last trip to the Marina. The town center was bustling, the trees still laden with colorful paper balloons and there were groups of people enjoying the lingering feeling of the holidays.  I had just stopped at a park bench to people-watch and to give the poodles some water when I hear several girls giggling as they passed by. They were pointing at the poodles and talked among themselves as they swung their path a little closer.  I said, “Buenas Tardes,  Qué quieren decir hola a las perras?”  I’ve been practicing this phrase because my saying, ‘Qué quiere acariciar a los perros (Do you want to pet the dogs),” isn’t understood by anyone.   It’s the word acariciar that I just can’t get out of my mouth.

What a beautiful family!  Two sisters (aunts), cousins and the patriarch were all eager to ask about the poodles.  They each shook hands with me and introduced themselves.  When the patriarch shook my hand I couldn’t believe how the strong and muscled yet gentle his hand was.  I always joke about having ‘man hands’ and yet mine disappeared in his grasp.  It was clearly a hand that’s done a lot of work through the decades yet wasn’t calloused or hardened.  The family was visiting Loreta for años nuevos de fiesta.  Everyone laughed a lot and the poodle girls ate it up, even Nickel enjoyed the attention.  I got an email addy from Paola, the young lady on the right, so I could send her the pictures. We’re now pen pals trying to help each other hone our language skills.

It was a wonderful farewell to Loreto with the added treat of treats for the road…..


It should have taken about 20 minutes to reach our next destination but, alas, it took quite a while due to a tiny adventure on the way. loretomap According to my Mexican Camping book the pull-off leading to a ‘free beach’ is .3 miles south of mile post 97 on Mex 1.  It’s not the easiest thing for me to keep my eyes on the winding roads and discern between arroyos, ranch trails and dirt roads so I was traveling slowly trying not to miss the turn.  At just the right spot there it was a very rough narrow dirt track leading into some pretty dense brush so I pulled to the side of the road to contemplate whether it was wise to drive down this miserable road.  According to the book it’s .7 miles from Mex 1 to the beach so I decided to walk the road first in order to make sure there was room to turn around if things got iffy.  As I got out of the truck, ahead on the highway, a pickup pulled off.  Not wanting them to see me walking down the road I let the dogs out for a potty break and kept an eye on the guy who’d just gotten out and was shoveling sand into the back of his truck.  After waiting a while it appeared that things were legit so I took Nickel and headed down the track.  After walking for a while it was clear that there were a few places for turning around if necessary, so I stopped short of the .7 miles, I got back into the truck and pulled onto the nearly nothing of a road.  The branches of the acacia trees slid along the sides of the camper and I could hear the big thorns scrape like nails on a chalkboard.  The road was incredibly rough and I couldn’t imagine RV’s, like the guide-book said, could make it through this area and I soon reached a part of the road that was completely collapsed and we were forced to stop.  The book was clearly outdated.  I decided, since we were there,  to take the dogs for a walk and look for the beach but soon realized even that was futile, the trail quickly disappeared and we were hiking through what was apparently grazing scrub.  I turned around to head back I saw our man walking along to a rock slide in the distance.  As I gathered the dogs around me and said, “Hola, Como esta?”   We had a short broken spanish conversation where he told me that he was looking for rocks for his garden (big flat ones not like the ones here) and wondered what I was doing.  I told him that my book said there was a beach at the end of this road, and thought this road was odd.  He laughed and said Oh no.  That’s up the road about 200 meters.  It was all very harmless but a little unnerving.  I’m pretty sure he followed me in because he was worried that I was up to some mischief.  He quietly left warning me to be careful as I turn around and pointed out a good spot to do so.  After a bit of a struggle to turn around, drive back through the acacias and back 200 meters onto Mex 1, I  saw the road. How did I miss it?   Down a more reasonable dirt road (as described by the book) we went and at mile .7 a beautiful beach spread out before us.


Loretta Bay National Park

 aka Juncalito Beach

TinTin was tired of the rigmarole…


Click TinTin’s picture to learn about the origin of the word rigmarole

We found a nice spot to camp


Set up house


And the Poodles finally got to PLAY