My time in Baja winds down

I know I’ve talked about it before, and I’m sure I’ll talk about it again. Here I am at the end of another rotation, six weeks of solid work, with a bit of free time thrown in here and there. I’m tired, emotional, sometimes irrational, and for the most part just ready to go home and have a “real” life once again. The last six months have been a bit rough on me, the last six weeks have been really rough on me. I’ve attempted to and unsuccessfully tried to reign in several aspects of my life with not much luck. Love, friends, kids and work have all been a bumpy road. Once again I sit here and ponder just how hard we really are supposed to try. Like many other people, I’ve learned the lesson (again) that the more we struggle to get somewhere in life, the more we are let down when it doesn’t come together. I’ve always been somewhat of a go-getter, never one to let a bad decision or wrong move slow me down too much. So now, I’m at the point where I sit back and wait. See what happens. Try and remember how to be grateful for what I have and grateful for the troubles that I don’t have. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s possible.

Baja isn’t totally over for me this year. I am scheduled to come back for the last week of the season, which is usually a pretty good time. All in all, Baja has been really good to me so far this year and I have much to be grateful for. I’ve touched Gray Whales, seen the ever elusive Brydes (pronounced Bru-tus) whales, seen some great Orcas playing, both began and ended many days with epic sunrises and sunsets, and even had some really awesome hikes. When it comes right down to it, I’ve been taken pretty good care of the last few weeks. Nothing to complain about, that’s for sure.

Internet the last 6 weeks has been horrible. I know that I’ve promised pictures, and I have some pretty good ones, but you will just have to wait a bit longer. How about within two weeks of this post, I promise to have my “Baja 2012” photo page up for you to check out. I think you’ll like it, and I hope you’ll think it’s worth the wait. As a little bit of a teaser I put up a shot from a couple weeks back, Lands’ End at sunset, with one of the booze-cruise tall ships out of Cabo san Lucas in the background.

I am happy to hear that my new (to me) lens has been delivered and is peacefully awaiting my arrival back in Nevada City. So now I’ll be traveling with the 17-40mm f/4 L lens and the 70-200mm f/4 L lens and I think my photos are going to get a bit better because of it. I do feel that I should probably get something that will fill the gap these two lenses leave, but I have no idea what at this point. I feel like it’s probably a good time to buy a 50mm prime lens, but I still need to do some research on them and save some money. I’ll have to see just how much I need it, when I get into the field with my other lenses. I’m also contemplating another body too, those 60d’s sure are nice…. If only I were could afford one….

A bit of luck and some free time

After my lens last week, I figured my picture taking was done until I got home. Luckily one of the deck hands aboard had a spare “loaner” lens that he was nice enough to lend me. So, a big thanks goes out to Garland Sutton for that.

I managed to get back over to Magdelena Island yesterday for a stroll and some nice quiet time away from things. Boat life has been fairly stressful lately, lots of mid-night wake up calls meaning sleep is never really something I get to caught up on. Sometimes naps can make that better, but it also is nice to just get away from things for a while.

The beach on the northern tip of the island has some pretty cool shell collections that wash up and make for some decent pictures. I spent a good part of my time over there just sorting through and strolling around staring at them. It’s always been very interesting to me what must live in there, or why they even exist at all. Just thinking about the crazy microcosms of life that are all around us is always a fun place to go mentally. It’s one of my favorite things to lay in the sand and think what “a day in the life of” some crazy sea critter must be like.

The end of the lens

Well.. it finally happened. I kind of wondered if it would, but it did. My “perfect” travel lens era has come to an end. I’ve been using the Canon 18-200mm “super zoom” lens for quite a while now, but that looks like it’s come and gone. The lens pretty much just fell apart on me. First something let loose inside and it wouldn’t zoom easily, then the autofocus stuck in one spot. This is not a very good thing, especially when you only travel with one lens and rely on it for several weeks at a time.

Really, what it means is a two-fold. First, it’s obvious to me that I’ve reached a level with my photography and where I take photos that means I need to buy the good stuff. All of Canon’s “L” series lenses are built to withstand the types of things I do for years and years. The “EF-S” series I have been using is more of a weekend warrior or every now and then type of lens. Second, I’ve recently got a little bit better with my gear, and my knowledge and the flaws that lens had were really starting to stand out to me. I can look at my pictures and see all the problems that the lens has. While it’s good to be able to counter-act these problems, I think it’s much better to spend the effort on other things while composing a photo.

So, I got on ebay and found a pretty good deal on a wide angle zoom lens in the “L” series, a 17-40mm f4 lens that I think will go fairly well with the 70-200mm f4 lens I already own but don’t travel with. I’m looking now for a 50mm prime lens to finish it off, and this will be what I travel with from now on. It’ll be a bit more stuff than I’ve had in the past, but I think the benefits will outweigh the negatives. It’s kind of exciting to making a leap ahead, and at the same time opening up a whole other set of rules to learn. It should be interesting and good.

It happened twice yesterday

Every now and then, something super cool comes along while I’m out here at sea that not only gives me motivation to keep on keeping on, it redefines how I look at life. Yesterday it happened twice. I had been able to touch a grey whale before, but it had been a while and the effects were starting to wear off. It’s almost as if the grey whales knew just what I needed and decided it would be my time.

We went out by zodiac and found a cow calf pair just north of La Boca in Magdelena Bay who was anxious to play. Right off the bat, the calf came up and stuck his snout inches from where I was sitting and literally let me pet her for half a minute. I was sitting there touching this whale, looking it in the eye (!) and thinking to myself “this is a moment I will remember forever!”

Twenty minutes later, the calf had given everyone in the zodiac a close and personal hello and them mom came over. After sliding around under the zodiac a few times and trying to lift it out of the water she decided to stick her head out of the water and see what the top side of the zodiac was like. She did this inches from me. So now, I am looking the mother of the baby who I had just had a serious moment with, straight in the eye. It was as if she was peering into my soul. At that moment I had to say aloud “I will never allow myself to not know this!”

Shortly after regaining my senses I realized that I hadn’t taken one picture! So I got busy, trying to capture the two who had helped me reclaim my soul, my sense of person, and made the day one of the best of my life. Above are pictures shot by Alexis Cammack, who was driving the Zodiac at the time. I thank her very much for them. I’ll post my pictures of these two beautiful animals when I launch my Baja 2012 page here in a couple of weeks.

Loreto Marine Park comes through again

The water just south of Isla Catalina is a spot that we go to and consistently see many type of wildlife, but yesterday we got one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. We got to play with Orcas. We aren’t quite sure why the transients were in this spot but we sure were grateful!

What made them so awesome was that they were acting very un-orca like. They were bow riding and riding playing in the wake just like dolphins.

Puerto Gato


I’ve decided to spend a bit more time on the beach this rotation, as a reward for all my hard work and efforts during my last time on the ship. So far, this seems to be working out a bit.

Puerto Gato is a place we don’t get to really often, and I had never had a chance to explore the beach there, so I took a little trip. The little beach is a nice sweeping arch, with nice sand and clear water. What’s so cool about this place is the rocks on the northeast end of the beach. They remind me of the red rocks around Moab, Utah, but they also have this really cool white-wash to them.

After looking around for the infamous “gatos”, I was a little a little surprised to not even see one trace of them cats that were left here many years ago to help combat the abundance of rodents on the island. I did, however, see lots of coyote tracks and scat and that probably explains that.