Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Long Drive Home

After another fabulous breakfast by Mari, at Palapas Ventana, we packed up the truck and headed north. It's about 20 hours from La Paz to San Diego. We decided to stay the night in Guerrero Negro and break it up into two days. Then I'll spend the night in San Diego and drive another 9 hours to Santa Cruz.

I have to claim my small victory: I drove the entire peninsula. There is something special about spending two weeks in Baja, driving, surfing and having fun with friends. It's an adventure that gives you time to really relax, and a level of excitement that reminds you how precious life really is.

For example, when we were driving through the middle of Baja we entered a mountain area where the road was really narrow... and winding. The big-rigs, that run 60mph all the time, and take up every inch of their lane, seem like they are going to rip off your sideview mirror every time they pass. The surfboard rack shakes from the wind of the passing trucks. I wish I could close my eyes every time.

As we rounded a corner I saw a huge truck cross over into my lane and all I had on the other side was a shear drop. I held my breath and we passed within inches. Now I know why there are so many white crosses on the sides of the Baja hwy.

Accidents do happen on the long road to Cabo, too. We just made it past one big rig that had driven into the side of the mountain. Half the truck was in the ditch and the cab was flipped over. We sqeezed past and kept on our way, knowing they would shut down the hwy for hours to get that thing out.

We arrived in San Diego on Friday, a little dusty and tired, but safe. I can't wait to do it again! Actually, we are going to do it again next summer and I invite you to come with us. We will be hosting a surf trip for 10 stand up paddle surfers over 4 different weeks in June and July. Check out for all the details.

Until then my friends, Adios!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lance Got His Marlin

It seems like Lance was talking about fishing ever since we hooked up a week ago. He's been making ceviche (the best I've ever had) and he even started smelling like fish.

Well, he finally got his day of glory. Two days of fishing at Palapas Ventana and he landed a 130lb Marlin.

I spent the morning paddling around in the hot sun while those guys were out there on the Panga's. There was a nice breeze and the water was just the right temperature to cool you off when you got too hot. I would paddle for a while then jump in the water and swim around like I was in a pool! The interesting thing about the water is you can swim with your eyes open and it feels totally natural. I think the salinity of the water must be the same as your eyes or something like that. It's almost like snorkeling without a mask.

Tomorrow we pack up and head home. I'm full of fish, burnt from the sun, and completely relaxed. 34 hours of driving and I'll be home in my own bed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Palapas Ventana Fishing, Diving, Paddling

We packed up and left Conejo on Monday for the beautiful, warm waters of La Ventana.

La Ventana is just about 30 minutes south of La Paz on the Sea of Cortez. It's been growing relatively fast in recent years. I like it because it still feels like a small Baja escape.

In the winter La Ventana is known for the howling wind that stretches down the coast, bringing 2-3 foot waves for premium Kiteboarding and Windsurfing. In the summer La Ventana is a great place for warm-water diving, spearfishing and panga fishing. While we were there we caught a Marlin, Dorado, Wahoo, Rooster Fish and some sleep.

Just a week after we left, Tim Hatler, co-owner of Palapas Ventana, speared a world-record 73lb Rooster Fish!

Palapas Ventana has turned out to be my favorite place to stay in Baja. Tim and his Mom, Karon, have created a "wife-friendly" resort in an ideal spot. If you've ever traveled through Baja before, you know what I mean by "wife-friendly!" For all the info about Palapas Ventana check out their web site, it has a ton of pictures.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Punta Conejo South Swell

We headed back up to Punta Conejo in hopes of catching some head-high lefts as a south swell hit the coast. We pulled in on Sunday afternoon and the wind was blowing about 8-10 mph so we unloaded our light wind kites. It turns out the wind was pretty weak and we ended up spending more time in the water than actually kiting.

Monday morning a little swell showed up but nothing to write home about. I did catch some video that I'll post to when it's ready. Pretty fun stuff.

My friend Tim Hatler, owner of Palapas Ventana, showed up and surfed with us. Then we packed up and headed back to his place in La Ventana for a few days of fishing, flat-water stand up paddling, and pure Mexican relaxation.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Baja Surf, Sun and Fun

We were having so much fun paddle surfing the little waves at Cerritos that we decided to just stay put. There's not much more to say except, "This is the life!" Here are some photos to replace the words.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stand Up Paddle Surfing Hits Todos Santos

I had a chance the paddle around in the nice, warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, but this was the first time I had a chance to really paddle surf in the waves. What a blast! I am totally hooked.

Stand up paddle surfing is one of the best sports I have had a chance to pick up. It requires balance, strength, coordination and a commitment to having fun. The little waves at Cerritos were perfect for learning, and the water was at least 75 degrees. I was in my trunks all day. Of course, nobody was taking pictures while I was in the water, but here is picture of my brother having fun on his Sean Ordonez stand up paddle board.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Punta Conejo - no waves

We stayed the night in Laredo at El Morro and had a great nights sleep. El Morro is a nice stop on the way down because it's affordable, comfortable and they have hot showers. Plus they've added wireless internet access for 20 pesos! Bonus.

Our plan was to drive to Punta Conejo and stay a couple days, surfing the left. Problem is the swell had died and there was nothing showing. We made a quick decision to head out and drive all the way to Todos Santos. At least we would meet up with our buddies down there and have fun sitting on a nice beach, watching the tourists all covered with oil!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Paddle Surfing Bahia Concepcion

We left Abreojos and headed toward the Sea of Cortez. I like getting up early, packing up our truck and rolling out. Our truck is set up perfectly for two guys on a surf trip in Baja. We have a stand up paddle board and two longboards strapped on top, a fish and three kiteboards inside the shell. John brought two plastic bins and I brought two bags, but I think in the future I'm going for bins, too. We can setup our camp in about 10 minutes easily. We have a big, green, indoor-outdoor carpet that is perfect, too.

It was a pretty long haul from Punta Abreojos to Loreto, but we stopped in the Sea of Cortez to cool off in the beautiful blue waters and play around on the stand up paddle board. I got a chance to do some paddling on flat water and it was a great workout. What a beautiful place, Bahia Concepcion. I am totally hooked on stand up paddle surfing. Our next stop is Loreto where we'll stay the night in a hotel, get a clean shower and roll out to Conejo tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

La Bocana - The Mouth

The mouth of the estuary at La Bocana is really a beautiful place. We drove up here to see if there is any kiteboarding in the estuary. It looks like it would be a lot of fun if there was wind.

The town of La Bocana is a pretty little town. When we were driving back to Abreojos we ran into a couple of kids making the 12 mile walk in the middle of the day. The school bus had just passed us by and we pulled off the road to check out the estuary, and these two kids come running up to us with huge smiles on their faces. They said they missed the bus or something like that, but I think they actually got kicked off the bus! The kids in Abreojos go to school in La Bocana and they ride the bus back in the early afternoon. One of the kids, Juan Antonio, played out uke's while we drove them home and said he was a musician.

Later that day we ran into a local who laughed when we told him about Juan Antonio. He shook his head and that's when I knew Juan Antonio was a trouble-maker.

We surfed today and had a lot of fun. I took my longboard out to the point. It's a fun wave, seems to come out of two directions at once, creating a wedge that jumps up really fast.

Tomorrow we head out early for Punta Conejo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Punta Abreojos Stand Up Paddle Surfing

So back to the Stand Up Paddle Surfing. The waves at Punta Abreojos weren't that great, but there were fun. John spent most of his time stand up paddle surfing and I paddled my long board out to the point. The waves were fun and the water was warming up. Still cold by Baja standards. We have some warm water in our near future.

I took the stand up paddle board out and had a blast. It's hard to keep your balance, but what a work out!

We met some good people who were camping there on the point with us, a couple of Australians who have been in Baja for a couple months, and a couple kids in a chevy heading down to Baja for a couple weeks.

Tomorrow we're heading up to La Bocana to see if there is any wind in the estuary.

Punta Abreojos Kite Rescue

Ok, I'm totally hooked. Stand up paddle surfing is my new sport.

Punta Abreojos was beautiful and the water was warming up. It is amazing how fast houses are popping up on the point. We drove into town and saw a couple of kites in the air, gotted excited and pulled up to the point. That's when the fun began.

The wind was blowing side off-shore and there was one kiter out. He looked like he was having a hard time and sure enough, as we were walking down to the beach, he dropped his kite and couldn't relaunch it. We watched for a while as he tried to get it up but he just kept getting blown out to sea. Eventually he rolled up his lines and attempted to pull off a self-rescue. Unfortunately, the wind was off-shore and he just kept going out to sea.

John looked and me and said, "should I paddle out and help that guy?" It sure didn't look like there was anyone else going to help him. So John pulled out his stand up paddle board, 12ft long and 30 inches wide, and threw on his swim trunks and started paddling.

He paddled out but the guy kept getting blown out to sea and it was about 30 minutes before he reached him. They must have been at least 2 miles out to sea by then, maybe more. He finally reached the guy and rolled up his kite. They paddled into the bay and I drove the truck down to get them.

That guy was so lucky. There were no pangas in sight, and all the other people on shore were just watching him get blown away. I got some video of it, I'll post it on youTube when I get home.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kite Surfing San Carlos

We headed into San Carlos today. It's still early since we left San Quintin at about 6:00am and San Carlos is only about 2 hours further south. It's an easy road and we came out of the arroyo to the beautiful Pacific ocean, a few campers and rolling waves on point after point. San Carlos sure looks like fun.

John took his stand up paddle board out before the wind came up and surfed the points from the Solo Sports headquarters all the way around the point. The wind came up around noon and we put up our 9m Caution Answer. The wind came on hard, but it was fluky and we decided to wait it out and see if it will fill in more.

It's hard to kite at a new place when there are no other kiters around. The windsurfers didn't look too happy that we were there, too. Eventually the wind filled in and John took the 9M out but just before he dove the kite the first time his chicken loop snapped and the kite went spiraling out. He was pissed. Swears that Caution cut some corners and made a really crappy chicken loop on the Answer. I hope the next generations are better.

We decided to cut our losses and leave San Carlos to the windsurfers for now. We have a good night, packed up and headed to Punta Abreojos the next day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

San Quintin Kite Surfing

We jammed out of San Diego at 5:00 am and made a quick stop at the border for our travel cards. It's a funny setup, you park as soon as you get through the gates and walk back toward the border. There is a little office with a couple guys sleeping where you get the papers. Then you have to walk back to the bank and pay $25 and walk all the way back to the little office to get it stamped. But it's worth it because they ask for them in Guerrero Negro and if you don't have them it's a huge pain.

We drove about 4 or 5 hours and stopped in San Quintin for our first day in Baja. We wanted to get in some kite surfing before we got too far into Baja. We met up with our friend Alexis and had some good wind. We kited all day long and slept at his place. In the morning, at about 6am, we packed up and headed for San Carlos. A great start!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Plan is coming together

It looks like we are going to spend the first day in San Quintin at a place called Gypsy's. It's a little more than a parking lot by the beach but it has a great little restaurant and it costs about $5 a night I think. We've kitesurfed this beach a few times before and it's a lot of fun, plus it will give us a break the first day so we don't have to drive all the way to San Carlos.

Before we head over the border we'll try to grab some tourist cards from AAA to fill out ahead of time. Since we're leaving at 4 or 5am it's best to have everything ready when you stop at the border to get your cards. Last time the guys were sleeping and they had to wake someone up to take our money.

I'm leaving Santa Cruz on Thursday night and staying in L.A. then I'll head down to San Diego Friday and meet up with my brother and friends. We'll pack everything up Friday afternoon and head out early Saturday morning. That's the best time to get over the border because you'll get all the way past Ensenada before anyone even starts waking up. No traffic, no policia, no worries.

Only two weeks left before departure.

Friday, June 1, 2007

14 Days Till Departure

It's June 1st and I'm heading out on the 15th. First stop is San Diego where I'll hook up with my brother and some friends before heading across the border for two weeks in Baja, Mexico. We've been planning this trip for a while and it's finally here. I'm excited and a little bummed at the same time. Excited because I get a chance to hang out with my brother and friends for two weeks of just surfing and kitesurfing. Bummed because I'm just a little bit broke right now. I'll be going pretty low-budget for this trip... but I guess that's how most Baja trips go!

We'll be driving down to San Carlos the first day and if there is any wind we'll stay there a while. Other stop will include Punta Abreojos and Punta Conejo. I guess there are some summer swells that bring to life breaks on the East Cape every now and then, so we'll pick up our friend Tim, in La Ventana, and see if we get lucky.

Tim is the lucky one, really. He and his Mom cashed out of the U.S. some years ago and opened a place called Palapas Ventana down there in La Ventana. I stayed there in February and caught a couple of windy days kitesurfing. We also went fishing on his Panga and explored the coast a bit. If you ever get a chance check out Palapas Ventana, they have wife-friendly (nice bathrooms, hot showers, clean, you know what I'm talking about) palapas and a great restaurant. So we'll pick up Tim and hang out down there for a few days. That's the idea at least. I'm sure it will change and I'll keep you posted as it does.