Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lynn Hamman - In the know in Loreto!

For most of the time that I have lived in Loreto Bay I have been receiving a steady stream of email notifications and announcements about what is happening in the larger community outside of this development.  These emails arrive in my inbox with random frequency, sometimes several a day, often several times a week, but they share the same source, Lynn Hamman, who manages a Yahoo Group that serves as the distribution point of a wealth of information for the English speaking community here.  

In fact, those of you who are familiar with this service would have received one such announcement recently, that I was resuming making posts to this Living Loreto Blog.  That is when it occurred to me that this would be a helpful Blog topic for those of my readers who are not yet aware that such a service is available, but who are interested in learning more about many aspects of life in the town of Loreto.  Before I go any further, it is very easy for you to join this group and start receiving these messages, just log onto: and join the group of almost 1,000 who are interested in keeping up to date about what is happening in this community.

But back to my story, I arranged to meet with Lynn one afternoon at the beautiful oceanfront property that she shares with her husband Randy, just north of downtown Loreto.  We sat in the cool breeze of their second floor Living Room, overlooking the beach and the Sea of Cortez, and I asked her how she came to be the conduit of all the essential information for the ex-pat community here in Loreto.

Six years ago, when Lynn was enrolled in a Spanish class at the local University, the Instructor wanted to spread word about the class among the English speaking community and Lynn volunteered.  Not having access to any current email list she created her own copying e-addresses from a phone directory of English speaking locals.  Starting with 300 – 400 email addresses she began by sending out a few announcements about the classes and quickly received many replies asking her to spread the word about other events and announcements – and so it began.

As the number of announcements increased and the number of contacts grew, the process of generating hundreds of emails became more tedious and time consuming as Yahoo limited the number of contacts that could be included in each “blast”.  When Yahoo later cut that number in half, effectively doubling the time and effort required for each mailing, Lynn had to find a better way.  That is when, three and a half years ago, she started the Yahoo Group that I linked to above, stream lining the delivery to what is now a list of over 900 recipients.

As the sole moderator of the Group, Lynn personally screens all incoming messages to maintain the integrity of the information going out over the site, and edit where necessary, for the consistency and quality of the messages.  Those messages cover a wide range of topics, some of the most important deal with information about civic utilities such as water and electricity and changes or interruptions in service, or others concerning civic administrative procedures including billings etc. and regulatory changes in areas like Immigration and Fishing Licensing.  There is also frequently information about local businesses; restaurant and store openings, closings and special menus or events, meetings of groups, information about local events in town like anniversaries or festivals.     

I know from my own experience that this is an important service and a reliable source of information for many people who spend time in and around Loreto and so it occurred to me that there may well be some readers of this Blog who are not yet aware of it – hence the subject of this posting.  Joining this Yahoo Group will be of particular interest to the increasing number of Loreto Bay Homeowners who are beginning their adventure of Living Loreto, and are planning to spend more time in their Casa away from Home here in the Baja.

While managing this busy service may sound like a time consuming challenge, there is another important aspect to their lives that keeps Lynn and her husband Randy fully occupied.  They are also the Hosts of a very popular boutique lodging, Hamman’s Vacaciones (  When they were having their home constructed on a choice beachfront lot about 6 years ago they decided to incorporate two self contained one bedroom suites; Mango Deck a free standing casita, and Tequila Sunrise a private condo unit on the ground floor of their residence.  They also added a bedroom unit that is available as additional accommodation for larger parties renting one or both of the other suites.

Their Guests enjoy these very comfortable self-contained units with private entrances as well as the oceanfront location with spectacular views and access to great amenities like the beautiful private swimming pool, outdoor fireplace, and even an aviary with a collection of colourful tropical birds.  With their years of local experience, Lynn and Randy can fulfill their role as Hosts very well indeed, providing a wealth of information to their Guests so that they can make the most of their time visiting Loreto.   A testament to the success of this operation is the large percentage of repeat visitors they have, people who consider this unique property as their “casita away from home”.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the great contribution Lynn has been making to improving the communication and building stronger bonds within the ex-pat and larger community here in Loreto.  As we grow together, this becomes a more and more important link for those of us here and for those who look forward to sharing the experience of “Living Loreto”.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere – the “Best” of Loreto!

I have a confession to make – I am not much of a swimmer, in fact I think I could be best described as a “sinker” instead.  So it was from this perspective that I decided to check out the first annual open water swimming race from Picazon to Coronado Island recently.  For those of you less familiar with the Loreto area, but who have been reading this Blog, the name Picazon may be familiar because I have written about it before (“In the La Picazon” May, 2009).  This is one of my favourite spots near Loreto, La Picazon is a beachfront restaurant incorporated into the home of the owners Alejandro & Imelda, located about 10 km north of town across from Coronado Island.

The swimmers met the night before to receive instructions and “carbo-load” with a pasta dinner that the organizers provided, courtesy of Pedro at Porto Bello Restaurant in Puerto Escondido.  Saturday morning was clear and sunny, as usual, and fortunately very calm when the participants and their supporters assembled at La Picazon before the race.  Following final registrations and a “warm-up” session on the beach, the 28 swimmers took to the water about 8:30 am.

I gather the expectation was to swim from point “A”, the beach at Picazon, directly across to point “B”, the white sand beach on Coronado, in a more or less straight line.  However, once the swimmers were well out into the 3 mile wide channel, they were pushed north by strong currents caused by the sea conditions associated with a recent storm hundreds of miles south of here.  By halfway many swimmers had been pushed north of the island and some had to be helped back on course by some of the escort boats accompanying them.

The first swimmer arrived at Coronado in the impressive time of 1 hour 22 minutes and more than half the field (water?) finished within the next hour.  As a point of interest to those not familiar with open water swimming, the field (there should be a better word in this case) of swimmers were about equally divided between those who swam with and without fins, with the “finned” swimmers having a distinct “mechanical”  advantage.   By about 11:30 boats began to return the swimmers from Coronado back to the beach at Picazon where a good sized crowd of supporters and the curious had gathered to welcome and congratulate them on successfully completing the crossing. 

Alejandro and Imelda provided a special “fast food” menu with self-service to accommodate the large number of hungry people and soon every available seat, including some temporary beachside tables under awnings, were filled with people animatedly talking about the swim that had just taken place and listening to stories shared by the participants. 

Eventually the organizers began the award presentations, recognizing each individual swimmer in the order that they finished, and presenting them with a medallion commemorating the event.  This lead to a joyous celebration and I was struck by the obvious camaraderie among all the participants, sharing in each other’s success, regardless of where they each had finished. 

The swimmers had come from near and far to join in this inaugural event; about 1/3 from in and around Loreto, representing both the local and ex-pat communities.  I met several from Loreto Bay as well, including Kevin, a Homeowner, and his friend Lynn, both from California who were experienced tri-athletes and had made this trip to Loreto specifically to take part in the race.  All told, about 1/4 came from La Paz and about the same numbers from the Mainland, one of the female swimmers was visiting Loreto from London England, saw the Poster and joined the swim  – an impressive turnout of exceptional athletes for the first such competition, one that promises to become an annual event!

Continuing the “water” theme of this week’s posting, I also had the opportunity to experience one of my favourite pastimes here in Loreto – a chance to get ON the water for a half day cruise on the Sea of Cortez.  I was contacted recently by a regular reader of this Blog, Jon Riksford, who introduced me to his new Sailboat Charter service based from the marina at Puerto Escondido, 10 km south of Loreto Bay.  Jon has been operating a successful Charter business in San Diego ( for a number of years and first visited Loreto a couple of years ago, when he realized that this would be a perfect location to operate a branch of his sailing operation.

He began by bringing  Jambo Deux, a 47 ½ foot Beneteau sailboat from San Diego around the Baja peninsula, stopping in Cabo and La Paz before establishing his home port in Puerto Escondido last winter.  For the past six months he has gone through the demanding process of acquiring all the necessary documentation and permits to comply with the Mexican regulations governing such charter operations and becoming a qualified professional Skipper in Mexico.

Jon generously invited me out for a half day cruise and encouraged me to bring some Guests along for the ride, as his boat can comfortably carry 8 – 10 passengers.  So earlier this week I was joined by Dar and Ed and we met Jon at his Charter office near the main dock at Escondido mid-morning.  Tied up at the end of the dock we first saw Jambo Deux resting against the beautiful backdrop of the “Hidden Harbour”.  Jon has a permanent moorage in the harbour, but usually can have the boat on the dock when he has a charter booked, making boarding the boat a simpler and landlubber friendly procedure.

After we stowed our bags of lunch provisions, cold drinks and other odds and ends, Jon gave us a brief tour of the spacious accommodations below decks of this beautiful boat, including all important (but simple) operating instructions for the two “heads” or on-board washrooms.  There are three staterooms, one forward in the bow of the boat and two aft, side by side below the large cockpit.   There is also upholstered banquet seating around a large dining table that can be converted to a fourth double berth, as well as a compact galley (or kitchen) and a nav. desk with below deck controls and readouts for all the electronics and navigation systems.  The effect of the gleaming hardwood paneling and trim with the white upholstery made the spacious saloon area very inviting.  

As Dar, Ed and I got comfortably settled in the cockpit area, Jon retrieved the dock lines and soon we were underway, motoring out of the marina area of the harbour, past the outer anchorage at its entrance, locally known as “the waiting room” and into the open water.  Although it was a calm day, once we were away from shore and heading toward Carmen Island, Jon pointed out the line of ripples midway across the channel marking a line of wind that we headed for.

Along the way he introduced us to the basic navigation and sailing features of the boat and we had the opportunity to take the helm (steer) as he stowed lines and bumpers making the boat seaworthy in the expectation of some sailing ahead.  The large cockpit would comfortably sit up to eight around a folding table, and with twin wheels aft there was plenty of room for a group twice the size of the four of us on board.  Forward, the spacious deck also had plenty of space to stretch out for some “rays” and there were matching kayaks lashed to the rails on either side, providing more options for fun on the water as well as snorkelling and casual fishing for lunch.

Once we reached the line of wind we had seen at a distance, Jon unfurled the mainsail from the mast where it is stored and released the Genoa headsail and we were underway and under sail!  This reminded me of one of my favourite moments from my own, sadly limited, sailing experience – when the onboard engine can be shut off and only the sound of the wind in the rigging and the water rushing by becomes the accompaniment to the true sailing experience!

As we relaxed around the cockpit table over a delicious lunch provided by Dar from the Bajaja kitchen, Jon described typical excursions ranging from a half day to a full day on the water and even extending to multi-day trips for smaller groups.  The itinerary can vary with the whims of the passengers and the wind conditions on the day.  Often the time aboard is divided between sailing and enjoying one of the many anchoring spots within easy access of the home port.  Snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming are some of the water activities that can be enjoyed at anchor, as well as the incomparable luxury of lazing about on a beautiful boat surrounded by the beauty of the Sea of Cortez.

As the wind began to die, it was time to retrace our course back to Escondido under power and enjoy the dramatic approaches to this beautiful harbour.  Adding to the enjoyment of this perfect day was the calm and confident presence of our Skipper Jon, who balanced the obvious skill and experience that comes from a lifetime of boating, with the relaxed and charming attitude of a true host, making sure his guests aboard enjoyed their experience fully.  I was reminded of a sailing instructor who had once advised me that the goal of a proficient sailor was to always conduct oneself with “grace and decorum” – a perfect description of the way that Jon handles himself and his boat.

If you are interested in sharing an unforgettable experience like I have described here, you can get more information on the website I linked to at the beginning of this posting and select “Loreto, Sea of Cortez Sailing Charters” at the top of the page for more details and contact information.  Although my opportunities to enjoy a day on the water are rare, I have long understood that the BEST part of the life experience in this pristine place is to be found – on the water – and that’s a truly special part of “Living Loreto”.         

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giving Thanks - a new season begins!

I have mentioned that there is a lot of new commercial development underway in the Loreto Bay community this Fall, I opened our new Real Estate Office this past week, next door to the new First Contact Property Management Offices where Chris and Dawn Smith have set up to manage their properties in the development.

This past week was also a “soft opening” event for another new business opening within Loreto Bay, the Bajaja Deli Bar which shares the building with USG Construction at the south end of the “race track” median between the Founder’s Village and Agua Viva.  This large contemporary style building is not actually part of the Loreto Bay Condominium regime, as the lot was owned privately before the development began.

USG Construction (  is a General Contractor that was formed earlier this year by three principals, most of whom have been involved with the Loreto Bay Development since the early days; Ed Tait, was the first Loreto Bay employee on the ground and was responsible for initially setting up the construction project, Groff Ward whose company West Coast Millworks fabricated all of the cabinets and much of the woodwork for the initial phases of the Loreto Bay Project, and Brian Partridge who has a lengthy background in all aspects of overseeing construction.

When USG leased the building for their construction office, they realized that because the property was originally designed as a residence, it would also lend itself to operating a restaurant/bar in the same location – a long-held dream of Ed and his wife Darlene and a shared interest of the other two couples as well.  Thus the Bajaja Deli Bar & Grill ( was born!  After months of preparations including renovations to the kitchen and securing the necessary permits, a couple of weeks ago they began serving Breakfast and Lunch between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.

But the big event was planned for this past Monday – a Canadian Thanksgiving Buffett – complete with a full afternoon of Canadian Football on the satellite TV in the Bar!  Announcements were made on the well established Loreto grapevine and soon they were sold-out by reservations, and then over-sold, and finally over-over-sold!  For those of my American readers, we Canucks celebrate our Thanksgiving in early October (I guess it has something to do with the fact that our harvest is earlier in the north), but in most other important respects the celebration is the same – like Turkey – but more about that later!

I arrived at Bajaja mid-afternoon and joined a small group of “early birds” in the Bar to watch the second half of the football game.  The main building is arranged around a central sunken courtyard with a covered patio area overlooking the swimming pool which makes up most of the back yard.  At one end of the pool there is a separate building where the Bar is located.  Tables were set up in the sunken courtyard, in the colonnade between the courtyard and the pool and on three sides of the pool deck with total seating for over 70 people.  As the afternoon progressed more people arrived and congregated in the Bar until that space overflowed into the other areas where people found seats, and enjoyed meeting and greeting each other as they relaxed over cocktails.     

 Meanwhile, preparations were well underway for the Thanksgiving feast that was to come!  Located behind the kitchen on the pool deck, a propane burner was set up to heat a large deep fryer where each of four large Turkeys were being cooked under the careful eye of Geoff, the Master Turkey Fryer!  For those of you who haven’t experienced deep fried Turkey this is one of the best (and fastest) ways of cooking fowl.  The fully thawed bird is immersed whole in cooking oil, which is maintained at 375 degrees, and it cooks to a golden brown in only 3 minutes per pound.  The cooked meat is succulent and juicy, without any of the oiliness you might expect from this cooking method – delicious!

In the kitchen, the staff chef Jessey was hard at work, with assistance from all the partners preparing the side dishes of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, gravy, stuffing and all the trimmings that make up a Thanksgiving feast.  By the time that all four birds had been cooked to perfection, a separate room was prepared for the buffet and soon the table was surrounded by appreciative diners loading their plates with the delicious food. As platter after platter of carved Turkey was delivered, and the side dishes were replenished, eventually everyone was seated and enjoying this traditional meal – in very Untraditional surroundings.  With the setting sun silhouetting the mountains to the west, and the verdant greens of the golf course fairways stretching beyond the bougainvillea trimmed wall around the illuminated pool – this wasn’t the way Thanksgiving used to be!

In addition to enjoying the delicious food, this was an opportunity for the guests to celebrate the beginning of a new season in Loreto Bay.  A few hardy souls had been here all summer long, many more had recently returned, some staying for weeks, others for the whole winter and so the conversations were “when did you arrive”, “how long are you staying”, “what have you been doing all summer”, re-establishing the sense of community that is one of the most important features of Loreto Bay.  I was also pleased to see some “Townies” from Loreto joining the festivities, it is good to have events where Loreto Bay and people who live in town can meet and mingle in a social situation.

After finishing off our feast with more tradition, freshly baked pumpkin pie with whipped cream, darkness began to fall and people took their leave, finding their way home in the warm night air, under the darkened silhouettes of Palm trees - adding a welcome new dimension to the celebration of giving thanks, particularly for those of us fortunate enough to be “Living Loreto”.   

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

It is not without a small degree of trepidation that I begin this, my fourth season of writing “Living Loreto”.  While I am excited about resuming my regular routine of posting stories about my life here in Loreto and the thoughts and activities that I want to share with you, my loyal readers – after my four month hiatus from Loreto it is a bit intimidating to begin the process again, considering the obligation I feel to produce these postings every week for the next eight months.
But, having said that, I realize that the best way to begin again is to do just that – begin!  I returned to Loreto almost two weeks ago, driving here from my summer locale, Calgary in Canada.  This year, however, rather than taking my regular direct route south from Alberta through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California before entering Mexico, I decided to take a different route, see some new scenery and do some visiting along the way.

In addition to the appeal of a new itinerary and visiting friends along the way, I left Calgary almost a month earlier than in previous years and so I had the luxury of making a more leisurely trip – almost three weeks, instead of the 4 or 5 days that my direct route normally takes.  Taking this additional time had the added benefit of postponing my arrival here earlier in September, when the combination of high temperatures and humidity make life at this latitude challenging, even for those who are acclimatized – let alone for me, having spent the past several months in what can be generously described as a “temperate” climate in western Canada!

So, when I left Calgary I headed west, instead of south, and crossed the Rocky Mountains into  British Columbia where my first stop was Penticton, a small resort city in the south-eastern part of that neighbouring province where I visited friends who are also Homeowners here in Loreto Bay.  Penticton is built around a beautiful large lake which is a vacation hub for many visitors as well as a large retired population.  I was impressed with the growing number of small “craft” vineyards in the area, the microclimate of the south-facing hills being ideal for a thriving local wine industry – Napa Valley North!  But just beyond these acres of lush green irrigated fields, the rolling hills covered with scrub brush in shades of rust and brown, reminded me much of the Baja environment and I realized I was homesick for Loreto with still over 4,000 km to go!
My next stop was Vancouver Island, but first I traveled further west through some of the most scenic mountain terrain in southern BC and along the Fraser River Valley, skirting the suburbs of Vancouver until I reached the major Ferry terminal at Tsawwassen south of the city.  I waited there for the departure to Nanaimo (Duke Point) and spent a relaxing 2 hour trip aboard, before getting back on the road again on the Island and travelling an hour south to the small town of Duncan, which was my next stop.  Although I used to travel Vancouver Island for many years on business, and stopped regularly in Duncan for meetings, in my working life I never had (made) the time to stop here and visit close relatives who live there, an oversight I had great pleasure correcting on this trip.

When I left Duncan, I headed to Victoria, on the southern tip of the Island, the Provincial Capital and one of the most beautiful cities in western Canada.  I have visited Victoria often over the years and it remains one of my favourite places in the whole country – with one of the mildest climates, great architecture, and a breathtaking setting where you are never far from the ocean and rugged coastline.  Here too, I was welcomed by close friends who are Homeowners in Loreto Bay and enjoy their summers in this very different environment of beautiful gardens, stately homes and verdant rainforests – truly the best of both worlds!   

Upon leaving Victoria I took a second Ferry, this time from the centre of Victoria south to Port Angeles in Washington.  After the ever increasing levels of scrutiny that I have become accustomed to crossing into the US on my regular route, the I found the Immigration and Customs routine for this Ferry crossing, while apparently adequately secure, to be much less intimidating and far more welcoming than my experiences at regular highway crossings further inland.  Perhaps this will become a preferred route in the future, when I can arrange my trip this way again.
Port Angeles Washington is a small harbour community with a mix of commercial and pleasure boat traffic and once I cleared the town I enjoyed a leisurely paced drive east and then south around the Olympic Peninsula through rain forest and never far from the rugged shoreline that separates Seattle from the open Pacific Ocean.  Eventually, I joined I-5, the major Interstate southbound to my next destination, Portland, just across the border into Oregon.

I had been looking forward to visiting Portland for some time, both because of how much I have heard about what a unique and beautiful city it is, and particularly because, for some reason, there are a disproportionate number of Homeowners in Loreto Bay from Portland and the surrounding areas.  I was able to visit with two such couples while I was there, and get a taste of what makes Portland such a special place.  While I was there, I had a recurring sense of familiarity – odd under the circumstances, since, as I said, this was my first visit, but it was later, after I left, that I realized why I felt this way. 
Although I spent most of my time while in Canada living in Calgary, thirty years ago I spent a number of years living in Ottawa, Canada’s capital in eastern Canada.  And it was living there with the century old brick buildings, lush gardens and a sense of history that reminded me of what I saw and felt visiting Portland.  Although I know there is much of Portland that is contemporary and similar to most major modern cities, because most of western Canada was settled long after there were thriving cities established in the western States, I realize that I associate the sense of history I was feeling with the older cities in eastern Canada, and so it was strange to me to find that impression “transplanted” to a very western feeling place like Portland.  I look forward to returning and experiencing more of the unique lifestyle Portlanders obviously enjoy!

One of the highlights of my trip was the next three days.  After leaving Portland I headed west to join the Pacific Coast Highway, the PCH or 101, a deservedly famous road, accurately named, as it skirts much of the coastline through Oregon and California.  However, just before joining the much anticipated 101 I had surprisingly remarkable experience going through the “H. B. VanDuzer Forest State Scenic Corridor”.  At the beginning of this stretch I noticed an advisory sign stating that the next 22 miles was going to be twisty and hilly – sounds like fun, I thought, but 22 MILES, that must be a bit of exaggeration.
It was no exaggeration!  For the next 22 miles I was on what could be best described as an asphalt roller coaster – Wheeeee!  Although I had my eyes firmly on the road and so couldn’t verify this by mileage, but I swear there wasn’t a ¼ mile stretch of straight road in the entire 22 miles, as this well maintained, albeit narrow two lane road corkscrewed through towering rainforest for almost 45 minutes of breathtaking scenery.  If I ever own a motorcycle, however unlikely that may be, I vow that this stretch of road will be near the top of my bucket list to experience! Not that this is a unique idea of mine, far from it, in fact, fully 50% of the traffic I met on this road was of the two wheel variety, and although I couldn’t verify this, I am sure most of the riders had bugs on their teeth from the silly grins from they were wearing.

But this was just the appetizer for the real treat.  Previously I have driven the PCH northbound several times in the past, but the experience of being on the outside lane southbound as this road travels along some of the most breathtaking coastal views was an even greater thrill.  Mile upon mile of crashing surf, wide expanses of open beach, towering rain forests, quaint seaside villages and an almost uninterrupted chain of State Parks and viewing areas, made for one of the highlights of my travels anywhere!             
My day ended in Brookings OR, at the southern end of the state, just north of the California border where I stayed near a large harbour of mixed commercial, fishing and pleasure boating.  The next day was more of the same, until 101 turned inland for about 50 miles south of Eureka before it met the junction with Highway 1, the Seacoast Highway, which is an even narrower, and, if possible, more scenic road, clinging even more precariously along the coastline for another 50 miles or so.  Reluctantly, at that point I made my way east rejoining 101, which was now an inland road that approached San Francisco.

Rather than attempting the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco at the end of that day, I diverted towards the east Bay, stopping in the unremarkable Vallejo for the night.  My third day took me back to Interstate 5 where I made the uneventful trip south through central California, east of Los Angeles, and along an almost uninterrupted 150 miles of endless orchards.  My passage through LA went smoothly, never leaving the crowded Interstate, until I approached Orange County, about an hour south, although it is impossible to tell where one place name stops and another starts in this hugely populated area.
I have not seen enough of Southern California to express a legitimate opinion, but, regardless -  I think that the area around San Clemente in Orange County epitomizes the ideal SoCal lifestyle – lush manicured lawns, gardens and public spaces, beautiful homes, miles of beaches with surfers on every available wave, charming commercial streets with great stores and restaurants – all in all, an idyllic environment that portrays a popular aspect of the American Dream.  Needless to say, I enjoyed my several days of visiting in this beautiful place, sharing it with good friends who are lucky enough to call this place home!

The day before I was due to enter Mexico I drove the hour and a half to San Diego to meet up with my travelling partner for the final leg into Mexico, who is also a Loreto Bay Homeowner, and we loaded the small amount of remaining space in my Denali with various house wares that were to be transported to Loreto – no space goes unfilled on the southbound trip!  For my last night in America I enjoyed staying in a 5 star Hotel in downtown San Diego, right on the Marina which held the largest flotilla of the most impressive yachts I have ever seen in one place in my life.  There were literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of beautiful boats as far as the eye could see!
That night I went to a SD landmark, the Kansas City BBQ, nearby my Hotel, and enjoyed a rack of “falling off the bone” ribs.  Although this small and very casual restaurant has been here for years, it became part of pop culture when it was used as a location for scenes in the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun almost 20 years ago.  Although this connection was interesting, if trivial, the food was good and it was a fitting end to my journey to date.

The next morning I picked up my passenger in downtown San Diego and we arrived at the Tijuana border by 9:00 am.  As I have mentioned before, crossing borders always entails some uncertainty, but we headed confidently for the “Nothing to Declare” lanes only to be immediately waved over to the secondary inspection.  One look at the obviously capacity load and we were directed to the parking area for a more thorough inspection.
Eventually, we determined that we were expected to remove EVERYTHING from the vehicle before a Customs Agent would look over our load.  Surprisingly, it only took about 15 minutes to “dump” everything around Denny and then I found a likely looking Agent to come and do the inspection.  He poked at a few boxes and asked a few questions and in less than 5 minutes said we were free to go.  Repacking went quickly and even yielded a bit more room than before so we were on our way again 45 minutes after crossing the border.

After a quick stop in Ensenada at the Costco (we didn’t have room to buy much) we carried on south, arriving in Guerrero Negro just as the sun was setting.  There were two extensive construction zones, one south of Ensenada and the other south of Catavina, but I have learned to welcome road construction on Mexico #1 because it means that the next time I pass that way the road will be much improved. 
After an excellent dinner and quiet night at the Malarimo Motel and Restaurant in Guerrero Negro we had a good breakfast and were on the road by 9:00 am, except, because we were now in Baja Sur it was 10:00 am.  But from there it was an easy 4 hour drive across the peninsula and south to Loreto, the last half of which was down the east coast from Santa Rosalia past the breathtaking Bahia Conception, almost deserted in the end of summer heat which reached 104 degrees in the afternoon.

And so ended my extended journey south almost 5,000 km in 3 weeks through some of the most spectacular scenery in the west of North America, broken up with wonderful visits with friends and family along the way – what a perfect way to begin another winter of “Living Loreto”!
P.S.  I have exceeded my normal budget for this first instalment, but considering the ground I covered I hope not to have taxed your patience.  However, if you will indulge me one more thing - I am very excited to announce that I have launched a new personal website at where you will be able to find this Blog posted every week along with Real Estate information about the Loreto Bay development and many new features to come this season including photos, video links and much more I hope to add to enrich the experiences I share in “Living Loreto”.  I hope you will bookmark this new link and adopt the habit of going there to find the Blog every weekend.  But rest assured, this blog will continue to be available at in the future, however if you continue to read the Blog there you will not be able to access some of the bonus features I will be adding to the new site this season – so I hope you will switch where you read this and make a habit of visiting in the future!