I’ve added links to two websites I’d like to encourage you all to visit. Flip Niklin is a Nat Geo and more photographer with some amazing whale pics that will blow your mind. As mentioned before, Jack and Rikki Swenson are amazing teachers and their latest pictures of mountain gorrillas in Rwanda are something to see.
We sat and watched a typical baja sunset, while floating along on perfectly calm waters last night. Finally we’ve gotten into the best part of Baja. It’s getting warmer now, and as we get further along on our voyage there will be more time for swimming and photography.
The water is still a bit chilly, running around 65 degrees, but for me it’s just about right. I was born and raised in the rivers that drain the run off of melting Sierra Nevada Snow. It’s my personal opinion that when you get into the water, you should be cooled and refreshed. When I was down in Costa Rica swimming wasn’t all that great for me. The air temperature was 90, as was the humidity, and the water temperature was around 85. To me this was like taking a bath in a tub of sweat. I’ll take 65 over 85, any day.
As I go along, on these great adventures, I keep finding more and more things that would be really cool to have along with me. Now, I’m starting to get into swimming a bit more and diving may be in my future. An underwater camera sure would be nice, I’ll have to start doing some research.
We made our last stop at el Arco today, a sad moment indeed. The rest of our time here will be spent up into the sea of Cortez, exploring and enjoying. The traffic in the waters around San Lucas were pretty busy, I’m hoping that the tourists were there in droves. We did see two big cruise ships heading in for the day, so that is a good thing. Once again, I hope nothing but the best for the people of Los Cabos. Tourism is what will keep them peaceful and good.
Since we’ve been under way quite a bit this trip, we’ve heard quite a bit from our Nat Geo speakers. It’s been a very good show to this point. Jack and Rikki Swenson are amazing teachers. I always value their time on my ship so much. I found out that that they have a great website, www.expeditiongallery.com and I’d highly recommend taking a look. The couple is extremely well traveled, and has seen much of the world through a view finder.
After leaving el Arco some common porpoises came over to bow ride for a while, and they rode most of the way over to Gordo Banks. It’s a very special thing to see the looks on guests faces when they first see a pod of 500 porpoises swimming and jumping towards the ship. One I won’t forget, since I probably had that same look on my face at one time.
We did see a few Humpbacks around Gordo Banks, but it wasn’t nearly as good as it has been recently. No breaching today, but they are always great to watch, no matter what.
Today is the start of our grand finale of the Baja Season. Our 14 day photo trip is wildly popular and talked about with guests come out from all around the world. In essence, it’s a two week exploration of everything that is cool about Baja California. We will see dunes, mangroves and Grey Whales on the Pacific side for a couple of days, then make our way down and around to the Sea of Cortez. From there we head as far north as we can get. This is one of the few trips we do that we get up to Isla Rasa which is a migration spot for the Tern and Isla San Estaban where Sperm Whales have been known to hang out.
Since there are four published National Geographic photographers on board, the whole emphasis of this trip is about getting “the shot”. There is already a pretty big feeling around the ship, that stress that one feels to perform well when around others of equal or better caliber. It’s kind of nice to see it from a side view, and gain some perspective from it. Everyone on this trip has some very nice photo gear, so I suspect that there will be some great pictures coming out of the mix. I’ll have to try and sneak a few of mine in, and see what happens!
We are here in San Carlos for the last time of the season, and it is VERY windy. So windy in fact that it’s pretty much shot down all of our big plans for this trip. We were supposed to head up the coast to the San Ignacio lagoon for some grey whales, but a 30 knot head wind is making the swells a bit too big for us. Punishing paying guests with rough seas is not such a great deal for any one. So we will hide out here in Mag Bay for a couple of days, then try and ride the surf back down to Cabo. It will probably end up being just as good this way.
I actually made it into town today, the first time in a month. San Carlos is a funny little town, barely struggling along and aging gracefully. There’s not a whole lot of money here, most of the people work at the power plant the lights up everything for a 100 miles. The town looks just about the same as it was last year, though a very little bit of clean up and new construction has happened since the hurricane rolled through a couple years ago.
The fishing does appear to be picking up again. Vessels have been coming in while we are at the dock and dropping off loads of this and that. It pales in comparison to the places we go in south east Alaska, but it is still good to see. A few years back the fisherman fished out the seas around the whole peninsula. Now they are getting a good lesson in just why sustainable practices are so important. There will be a new generation that come along now and take this into account. I wish them luck.
People in San Carlos are always nice, though they are not very used to Gringos. Tourism here is pretty slow, since the town is pretty far dislocated from the major cities on the peninsula. Highway 1 misses San Carlos by a good 60 kilometers, and many travelers never even come close. La Paz is around a three hour drive, and it can be a daunting one. There are switchbacks that come out of nowhere, and free ranging cattle usually hiding out at random spots along the way as well.
1. Traveling to beautiful places year around.
2. If you are having a bad day at work, you just look outside.
3. The whales. Lots and lots of whales.
4. The 10 second commute.
5. Working with top notch Natural History staff and Photographers.
6. Bio-luminescent Bow Riding Dolphins.
7. Calving Glaciers.
8. Taking a zodiac for a spin, and enjoying things many people never have a chance to see.
9. Summer solstice in Alaska.
10. Going on a trip that people pay thousands of dollars for, but instead they pay you to go.
I went ashore for a bit on Magdelena Island and managed to snap some pretty good pics of the sand dunes out there. It was pretty windy, so I had to be very careful of the sand blowing into my camera!
To the right is a new page I’ve written about my photography. Please take a look.
If you would like to see more, you can always take a look at my albums on Picasa
He was a playful thing. Kind of wanted to check us out. Didn’t want anything to do with being touched, though.
Maybe next week!
I’ve been pretty busy ordering up parts for the van lately. I have every intention to get the electrical system to a point where it can keep my going for a few days at a time. I’ll be running two optima red top batteries wired up so that all accessories are on the auxiliary battery, while all essential items are run off the main battery.
At this time, I am using a small solar panel to keep the battery charged while I’m gone for months at a time. Currently, I am researching larger panels to keep the system running while in use, so I won’t have to run the engine. There is already a factory GM 95 amp alternator installed, but using up precious fuel to keep things going is not so great of a deal. From the research I’ve done to this point, it looks like I’ll need around a 100 watt panel to keep me going at a nice steady pace.
The van has a bit of an electrical load already. Of course, not everything needs to be run at the same time, but I currently have a bit of stuff. There is the CB radio, the 65 watt 2 meter ham radio, a mini-dvd player, a 1000 watt inverter and the stereo. Often times the laptop is going as well.
There are many things that I’m still trying to decide on. I’m on the fence as to if I need a 12 volt fridge or not, since to this point keeping one running would be as much of a hassle as dealing with ice in the summer time. Other things that may be added down the line are a wi-fi booster antenna and system, a pump to run through a hot water heat exchanger for showers, off road lights, work lights around the exterior and several LED lights around the interior. Then there is the big ones, a winch, and a 12 volt air compressor.
The goal for this project is long term sustainability while on my own in the wilds. Being able to run equipment for navigation, documentation and the ever-important keeping kids occupied while on trips should be a good deal for everyone who happens to be along on a trip with me.
More updates as I move along…