Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Road Trip to La Paz: San Ignacio to Loreto

At this point, it must be clear to you, that our trip south was drawn out about as long as we could make it. Rather than the normal two long days of driving from San Diego to La Paz, we've managed to stretch our trip out over four days. Allowing more travel time made driving far less tiring. It also allowed us to stop at some of the places along the way that we enjoy. For the most part, the scenery along the length of Baja is a combination of gorgeous and spectacular; there are a few stretches, however, that do not live up to those superlatives. The downside to the beauty is that generally we're so busy taking it in, we forget about taking photos to share.

Travel between San Ignacio and Loreto has some of the steepest, longest grades of the entire route. The road from San Ignacio leads southeast across the mountains towards the Gulf of California. Kathie is not a fan of the long, winding down-hill descents with non-existent shoulders and very low guard rails to keep one from driving off into the abyss. Fortunately, on the drive south, the long drops into the arroyos below are in the north-bound direction. All the drama and tension seems well worth it when the first view of the Sea of Cortez comes into view just north of Santa Rosalia.

There was a strong norther blowing down the Sea producing wave crests and spume that was visible from our first glimpse of the water, several miles away. Once down along the shore and into the former French smelting town of Santa Rosalia, blowing dust took the place of the watery spume seen off shore. The wind was cool and, according to the locals, had been blowing for the past week.

Since we wanted to arrive in Loreto in time to make the trip south to the Singular yard at Puerto Escondido to arrange for boat-yard space in May, we didn't tarry in town, but continued on south. We skirted the beautiful and boisterous Gulf until arriving in Mulege, where we stopped for a lunch break.

Once on the road again, in less than 10-miles we were at the entrance to one of the jewels of the Sea of Cortez, Bahia Conception. There were several boats in the northern anchorage of the bay at Santispac, where a calm lee was provided by the rocky hillside just inside the entrance to this picturesque inlet. The length of the bay stretched out behind them, dotted with islands.
The waters surface was the same as what was observed in the Gulf. It was covered with pop-corn wave crests. The road follows the shoreline of Bahia Conception to its' southern extreme some 20-miles south, before heading inland and paralleling the coast until arriving at Loreto.

We turned off through the grandiose highway divider that fronts the western end of town and drove towards the Gulf and into the old-town area.
Our first stop was at the Damiana Inn to see if we could find lodging for the night. This is cozy little inn that is one of the old houses that has been converted into a small boutique hotel of approximately six antique filled rooms, each with their own private baths. Deborah, the enthusiastic proprietress of the property showed us to our room. Once we transferred some of our luggage to the room, we took our leave so we could make the 12 mile trip south to Puerto Escondido before the Marina office closed.

The Singular yard in Puerto Escondido is where we'd like to have Citla hauled out during hurricane season and wanted to make sure we would have space in May. Puerto Escondido, itself, is a recognized hurricane hole in the Sea of Cortez. The mooring field and anchorage is encircled by land, save for a very narrow entrance. To the west are the towering Sierra de La Giganta, rising but a few miles west to several thousand feet. To the east and south the Gulf is blocked by cactus covered hills, save for one small 'window' in the south which is divided from the Sea of Cortez by a high sandy berm about 500 feet wide. The boat yard is located at the southwest corner of the anchorage, closest to the base of the mountains. There are ample boat stands, chain and space. The yard provides power and water for any boats located along the southeastern fence line.

We parked outside the Marina offices and went to the second story offices to speak with Constanza Noriega about our future haul out. All the haul out and put in costs, as well as the monthly storage fees were given. Leaving the Marina parking lot and heading out, we saw one of our 2008 ha-ha sailing friends, Steve from s/v Sea Biscuit. We made arrangements to meet with him and his crewman, Jim, for dinner in Loreto later that evening. We met up with them later that night had a wonderful Italian dinner and strolled back to Damiana Inn for a comfortable nights sleep.

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