Added 5 May 2007

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Wednesday, 21 March 2007, Bahía de los Angeles to remote beach camp, Baja California Norte, Mexico

We woke up to continued blustery conditions. The wind remained inconsistent, hardly noticeable one moment then blowing to beat the band the next. The weather concerned us enough that we didn't feel safe in going kayaking. Almost without exception, if a kayaker dies in Baja, it's because the person didn't respect the wind. The wind can quickly raise huge swells and white caps and since the wind almost always blows off-shore, will take you out to the middle of a big sea.

The tide was out when we woke up, so we decided to go tide pooling in the morning to see what the weather was going to do before figuring out the rest of our day. We saw some really interesting creatures in the intertidal zone and had fun poking around. By the time we were tide pooled-out, the weather didn't look very promising into the foreseeable future. At lunch, I made less than subtle comments that if the weather was going to be bad, I'd at least rather be someplace secluded, quietly advocating an early departure for a remote beach that Chuck and I had been to before. Neither Chuck nor Marisa wanted to pack up camp again so soon, and frankly, neither did I, but they didn't like being around so many people either. In fairness, everyone we met there was extremely friendly and considerate, but they still constituted, for me, a veritable mass of humanity.

Whether to appease me under the sense that I was getting cranky, or because he truly wanted to, Chuck suggested we head out to Alcatraz, with the thought that if the weather stayed bad, we could at least have some open spaces to go hiking and explore on land. I don't recall Marisa saying anything; instead she simply started packing up to go. She and Chuck went to the office and without hassle got a refund for the second night of camping that we had paid for.

As we started loading our gear, our neighbors to the north said they had thought of heading out as well, but didn't have the options we had because they weren't equipped for expedition travel. Being well practiced at packing up by this point, we were soon on the road, first heading in to town for more water before heading north to our remote beach. The weather added some drama to the sky, making the drive a beautiful one. As we headed up the highway, we soon came to the dry lakebed that is the beginning of the road to our destination for the evening, and started inserting ourselves into the wilderness.

Both Chuck and I had quite clear memories of the route, and easily found our way to our old camp with scarcely a moment of hesitation at any of the many forks in the road, even though we had taken a different route in the last time we were there. About 2 1/2 hours after leaving Bahía de los Angeles, we arrived all smiles at our camp. We were happy and relieved to discover the place just as we remembered it; a point of concern for both Chuck and I, as we feared that it may have become "discovered" since our last visit. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I was grinning like a Cheshire cat. The weather was certainly no better than Bahía de los Angeles, but this particular location is one of those places that will always be special to me, no matter the weather.

That statement got rather thoroughly tested too. The afternoon wasn't bad, but as evening approached, the wind began to rage. For the first time in Baja, we didn't build a campfire, knowing that it would be both hard to control, and that the wind would easily negate any warmth it might give off. Instead, after Chuck and I made dinner, we all grabbed our drinks of choice and piled into the back of Chuck's truck to play poker, using chocolate chips as currency. This is when Marisa earned her second nickname (the first being Beach Comber): Easy Money. She lost all her chips in no time, and had to take a loan from the bank. She lost those chips even more quickly, and had to take a second loan from the bank. In the meantime, the wine she was drinking really started taking its toll. That's how she racked up her third nickname: Lim Song Dre. That, I suppose, requires an explanation - When Marisa gets toasted, she becomes a woman of many accents, going from Scottish, to Chinese, to Norwegian, to British, to god knows what. The accent that she seemed to use most, however, was a cross between an irate Chinese woman and a black rapper of the Dr. Dre mold. Hence Lim Song Dre.

After a while, in spite of the great entertainment she her many accents were providing us, Chuck and I both realized that we needed to cut Lim Song off at the bar, but the Dr. Dre in her is a belligerent drunk. Chuck tried grabbing her glass of wine away from her, but she fought him off. So after some quick non-verbal communication between Chuck and I, Chuck distracted her while I grabbed her glass of wine. It took her a few minutes to realize it was gone, but eventually she did and got upset. Realizing that there were going to be problems if she didn't get her glass back, I secretly threw nearly all of the wine out and handed the glass back to her.

At any rate, we were done with playing cards at that point, as Easy Money was in no condition to continue playing. Then she decided she wanted to go down to the water to see if there was any bioluminescence. There was no way we were going to let her go anywhere on her own, so we escorted her down to the water. As we stood by the water, she suddenly flung herself backwards in an attempt to lay back in the sand to look up at the stars, forcing Chuck and I to react quickly to catch her. Back at the truck, we sat on the tailgate and talked for a while.

As we continued to talk, her buzz wore off, so that by the time we could hardly stay awake any longer, Chuck and I felt it was safe to let her be, so he went to his tent and I climbed in to the back of my truck. The wind had been strangely quiet since going down to the water, and we had hopes for a calm night. We sure could have used it, but it wasn't meant to be. Not long after we had all gone to bed, the wind picked back up, bucked its rider, and ran like hell on hooves.

Earlier, in anticipation of a windy night, I had gotten out my biggest tarp and arranged it over my truck bed in a far more windproof set-up than I had on any night prior. My extra labor came to naught. The wind dug beneath the tarp, biting hard on the edge and shaking it violently like a shark on a mackerel. The tarp was flapping so violently that I could feel the concussive force of it as it compressed the air beneath it.

I got no sleep.

I lightly cursed the wind.

It didn't help me sleep, but it didn't hurt my chances any either.

The knowledge that I was at one of my favorite places on this globe kept me from going mad.

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