Added 5 May 2007

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Friday, 23 March 2007, Drive to Punta Bufeo, Baja California Norte, Mexico

Sometime early in the morning, I woke to some banging around that sounded like it involved a Rubbermaid Action Packer. I was really tired from my near complete lack of sleep from the previous night, so wasn't terribly curious about the noise. I figured the lid was just blowing around in the wind, or that Chuck was getting something out of one of his boxes. Well, it turns out that he had left one of the latches on an action packer with food unlatched, a mistake the local coyotes were more than happy to capitalize on. They were digging around in his food box, stealing an entire loaf of bread and a bunch of protein bars.

After a few minutes of the banging around, Chuck got out of his tent to discover the mischievous coyotes doing their dirty deeds and scared them off. They returned. They howled. He scared them off again. And this time, he chased them clear over to the nearby mountains while wearing nothing but his skivvies! I'm glad that I discovered this fact latter from him telling me rather than by unexpectedly poking my head out from under my tarp!

Dawn broke with clearer skies and calmer winds, but a less than rosy forecast, thanks to a text message that Shan had left on our rented satellite phone at my request the night before. It sounded like more bad weather might be rolling in. We decided to play the day by ear. We weren't scheduled to leave the area until the following day, but left the option open of heading back a day early.

But first, a trip out to the island for everyone. Chuck was gung-ho to go and was paddling out before Marisa even had all her gear ready. I went ahead and launched, but hovered in the shallows near camp looking for stingrays while waiting for Marisa to get ready and get in the water. There was still some wind and chop, so once Marisa hit the water I kept her close in case anything happened. By the time we rounded the point, Chuck was already at the top of the island, taking pictures of us as we approached.

Since Marisa had never been to the island before, and since the waves would make beaching, then circling the island a bit more challenging than simply heading straight for the leeward side of the island, I decided to lead Marisa on a quick tour around the rock. The fish and other creatures I had seen on my first trip to the area more than a year prior were distinctly absent this time around. We didn't see anything but starfish until we got halfway around the island, where Marisa spotted a white jellyfish of some kind.

Chuck then joined us by rounding the island in the opposite direction, and we cruised the shallows around the eastern side of the island looking for anything interesting. After Chuck and Marisa pulled ahead of me a bit, I saw fairly large numbers of a dark colored fish, but the wind-disturbed water prevented me from getting a very good look at them.

By the time we circled the island, the wind was starting to build, and I think Chuck was ready to head back, but Marisa wanted to explore the island, so we all turned to hit the beach. As I approached the island, I felt something on my leg and looked down to see a very large, potentially dangerous looking spider run down my leg. I brushed him off and he ran and hid. At that point I was certainly eager to get to shore and get out of the boat! Once ashore, I grabbed a stick and tried to fish the spider out, but he hid inside the foam that pads the forward bulkhead. Knowing there was no way for me to get him out of there, I just started to compress the foam in hopes of killing him. The last thing I needed was to have a potentially dangerous spider biting the heck out of me in the middle of the ocean with no way to retaliate. Chuck was highly amused by my attempts to make my cockpit spider free and took pictures of me while Marisa roamed around.

After taking care of the spider, I went out in search of birds to photograph while Chuck and Marisa each did their own thing. But the wind kept picking up, so even though I think Marisa would have liked to have stayed longer, Chuck and I kind of forced the issue of heading back. Once again, I kept Marisa close. She did an excellent job on this, and all of our kayaking excursions though.

When we got back to camp, without much discussion, we decided to head home a day earlier than planned. With the weather not getting better, and likely to get worse, and in consideration for the fact that Chuck had an eight hour longer drive to get home than we did, it seemed the best choice.

We had lunch, and by early afternoon we were packed up and ready to go. As we drove away, I kept looking back over my shoulder at what I was leaving behind until the next time I could return.

After leaving our own little Eden, we headed north to Punta Bufeo, where Chuck has some friends who live there. We spent a little bit of time on the highway before once again driving a rough, wash-boarded road back to the eastern coast of Baja. We stopped in San Luis Gonzaga to get gas and to stop at the market. The gas station was out of gas and the market was closed, so we had to try someplace else for supplies. We wandered around San Luis Gonzaga trying to find another place, but didn't have any luck. By the time we made it back out to the main road, the market was open, so Marisa and Chuck were able to get some supplies.

While at the market, I noticed that my left rear tire seemed excessively low. I checked it and it was down to about 12 psi instead of the 25 psi I had in my other tires. A quick inspection revealed no holes or nails, so Chuck and I figured that the tire must have lost a bead at some point and let air out. We aired it back up and continued north to Punta Bufeo.

Chuck's friends Allan and Diana weren't home, but while we were stopped, I noticed that my tire looked low again, and this time I was able to find the leak, a small rock bruise that was slowly letting air escape. I could easily stop the leak by applying light pressure to the afflicted area. Since we didn't have to go far, and since the leak seemed to more or less stop itself at around 12 psi, I decided to wait until we got to camp to fix it.

We headed north out of Punta Bufeo and soon found a road that lead us to the beach, and a decent place to camp. Since we would soon run out of daylight, we decided not to be too picky and stay there. We got our gear unpacked, then Chuck got out his tire repair kit and deftly and expertly patched the hole in my tire.

Marisa told us she was going to go out and collect some firewood. Chuck and I continued to get camp arranged, and after about 20 minutes or so, I noticed that Marisa hadn't returned yet. I knew that there was wood close at hand and began to wonder what could be taking so long. I mentioned her absence to Chuck and we went out searching for her. We found her a ways up the beach without so much as a single twig in her hand. Apparently she had gotten distracted and was lost in thought.

We got Marisa back on track and after we all returned to camp with armloads of wood, I spent the waning daylight watching the pelicans dive for fish as the islands offshore slowly darkened.

Chuck and I combined forces to make dinner again, and ate by a nice, tranquil campfire. No one had a great deal of energy as the evening went on, and neither Chuck nor Marisa lasted much past Baja midnight. I was all set to join them when all of a sudden I got bit by a photograph bug and decided to try to get artistic with the setting moon.

It was a rather pleasant night as I slept on a cot under a simple tarp lean-to.

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