Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's not THE Baja dumbass.

There's a small subset of Baja travelers who do things that piss me off. Here my list:

1. I don't visit "THE Canada", there is not a single local who says, "Vivo en LA Baja" (I live in THE Baja). If I want some poutine I'll go to, "Canada" and if I lived in Baja, I'd just say, "Vivo en Baja". So for the love of God stop saying "THE Baja". You sound stupid and you're bothering me.

Me, going to my happy place.
2. Burn your toilet paper. Just because you can squat, shit and piss without hitting your shoes, you shouldn't assume it's okay to litter the dunes with your crap confetti. Bury your turd, bring your used TP back to your fire and burn that shit.

3. You're driving a 40k dollar 4x4 Tundra, your surfboard costs $700, that Patagonia down jacket you're wearing set you back $300- so knock of the cheapskate, weasel, bullshit and pay the poor fisherman the WHOLE nine bucks he's asking for in camp fees. Don't haggle, don't bargain, just say thank you and pay the guy because you can handle it.

4. Unless your passport is green and says Mexico on the cover, don't start claiming local status. No matter how long you've lived in your newly adopted home town, you'll never be the guy to call visiting surfers out. Why? Because, guess what? You're just an expat statistic, a guest, and most likely a kook.

5. Yes, dog leash laws are pretty much non-existent in Baja. And yes, on most beaches there's all kinds of dogs running free all over the place- it's beach dog heaven. Does that mean all rules are out the window? Hell no! I don't let to collect your dog's turd between my toes so pick up your dog's shit- you f#cking jerk.

I feel so much better now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When it all comes together...

We scored. Sometimes you get lucky, we had some good info about swell and wind direction and we acted on it- the decision paid off. All things considered, the five days spent camped out at this spot were the most satisfying surf days I've had in Baja. Check it out:

An out of season south swell and a really mellow wind pattern produced some very fun surf. 
Lots of wide open waves- since nobody thought it would be that good.
Not a bad set-up, camp out in front of the spot you want to surf.
The water was aquarium clear and warm.
No barrels but good, clean, down the line, racetrack sections still provided a great time.
Nothing life threatening, head-high and fun for a week.
We were there long enough to have to begin rationing food, water and beer.
Fully deployed.
Glassy and empty, take your pick of the waves coming through but you better like lefts.
This inside racetrack section was empty all day long. Further inside, at a spot I call little reverse malibu, there were only fish swimming and birds diving.
Here comes a good one.
Early morning light hits the surf ghetto.
Long lines up the point- a couple feet overhead and reeling. And empty.
Ridiculously fun to carve big lazy turns all day long.
Or maybe you'd like to just come off the bottom and fly across huge open sections... the choice is yours.
Endless possibilities out there.
A gem coming right at me.
Off to the races again.
Only a couple of feet deep here but no urchins to worry about and nothing sharp to hurt you.
Doing this, leads to this...
Floating around on the white water rebound.
Fun to carve big arcs.
Fun to bury the rail off the bottom. 
I paddle, the ducks paddle.
View from the front porch.
We had to drive away from fun looking surf to score these waves, this isn't easy to do. But, nothing risked nothing gained AND I've now got additional data points to add to the supercomputer between my ears that will help me get it good someday in the future.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

We're going to be heading into a "zona secreto" tomorrow in search of some solitary waves, there's a swell forecasted to hit in the next few days so we may be scoring. The problem is that this spot will have no wifi so there will be an information blackout for a few days coming up.

Wild horses- couldn't drag me away. Saw these guys clip-clopping through the center of town.
Surf is building... best day yet. Supposed to get hefty, we'll see!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Home sweet, southern Baja, home.

Three hours from Punta Conejo is the Peanut. The Peanut is our home down here in southern Baja and after a couple days of roughing it in the Conejo sand we decided it was time to head for our home base. At the Peanut, life is pretty good, we've got shade, a clean place to cook, a sink with running water. Best of all, we've now got a brand new bathroom with a flushing toilet! All carved out of a piece of desert where there is no electricity or water supply (our water is trucked in).

CON KSO at the Peanut docking station.
The newest addition- a legitimate flushing toilet.
The best thing about the Peanut is its close proximity to a few different surfing options. Within a few hours in either direction we've got right and left point breaks, beach breaks and a couple reef breaks too. Now, to be honest, none of them are what you'd call "world class" and it takes a lot of good luck to catch any of them on a really good day but, they're nearby and if you can read the weather signs, you can score some good days. Lucky for us, the second day we were here, the winds started to clock around to straight offshore. When that happens, the surf starts getting really good.

The winds switched offshore and the surf went from okay to seriously fun.
Nothing too big or life threatening just good shoulder high fun waves. Rumor has it, something bigger is on the way.
 We've been surfing the local point (about a 5 minute drive from the Peanut) for the last couple days. I'm cooked off, sunburned and tired. The rumor on the beach is that something size-able should be here in the next couple of days. If the winds cooperate, I may be pulling up stakes and launching a surf patrol to the spot that's been inhabiting my brain for the last year. It's time to scratch the itch.

The best part of surfing down here is hooking up with old friends, my good old buddy Marcos lives down here about 6 months out of the year and surfing with him is a highlight. Surfing with friends is the best and during the winter, coming down here is like a reunion.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Path to Conejo.

Driving up and out of the Sea of Cortez is one the best parts of the trip. There's the sapphire blue of the water over your left shoulder and, as you drive past Loreto, the craggy mountains just to your right. This area tends to get a lot of rain in the summer so those jagged peaks are always specked with giant green cardon cactuses, thick trunked elephant trees and other cool desert plants. It's a beautiful area. This day would be a medium length day of about four hours to our next stop, the big left point break of Punta Conejo.

The road into Conejo, drop your tire pressure and take it slow- there are blind curves and sharp rocks... and you're a long way from help.
When it's breaking, and the wind isn't cranking, Punta Conejo is one of my favorite waves. It's not hollow, gnarly and fast so if you're a short board ripper you might be disappointed. It is, however, a cobble bottomed, left point break that has enough power and a long enough tapering wall to allow you to get really jamming down the line. And the wave can be long. I've surfed over a hundred yards many times. On special days I've stretched waves all the way from the top of the point down into the fish camp which is probably three hundred yards of leg burning, left handed fun. It's a favorite of mine- if it's on.

Unfortunately, the surf gods decided that I'd have to work a little harder for my waves. The surf was only fun for one morning session. I paddled out on my 9'0 stando and snagged anything I wanted since I was surfing all by myself. I only came in when I'd surfed close enough to camp to smell breakfast being made. It was a perfect morning.

Dakotah giving path goers a little advice on their travels.
Although the surfing was not so hot this time at Conejo, the camping, as usual at Conejo, is really good.  With four wheel drive, I can drive out onto the sand berm away from the cliffside surf/camp ghetto to where there's tons of firewood within easy reach and clean white sand. Watching surfers walk past our camp we noticed that the walk up to the point was a bit of a slow process. This was due to the broken oyster shells, sticks and sharp rocks that had to be navigated in bare feet to get to the paddle out point. Dakotah and I quickly decided to help out the surf community by building a clean sand footpath. We collected rocks, cleared a path and hand-sifted the sand to make sure anything sharp couldn't poke a barefoot. It took us a whole morning but we built a really nice little path, everybody was stoked on it and we had fun doing it. Each time somebody walked our path it made us happy to have made a great spot just a little bit better.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sea of Cortez Campsite

Leaving Shell Beach we zoomed up the coast to Guerrero Negro, the border town between the Mexican state of Baja Norte and Baja Sur. We try to mix up our driving days alternating really long days with days that may only require three or four hours. Yesterday we were on the road for almost ten hours so today would be a shorter, "easy" day. Our goal was a small beach on the Sea of Cortez that has two things going for it: a couple of beautiful campsites and small restaurant/bar that sells good food and insanely potent margaritas (the bartender, Pepe is a margarita artist). Crossing the border between the two states, we paid the optional-but-not-really-optional twenty pesos to have the bottom of our car sprayed with "pesticide". Next stop would be a beach-side campsite. 

Art hour at our beach campsite. 
After a couple of margaritas and a papa rellena (stuffed potato) we hit the sack in the back of CON KSO. Late that night we heard a moto pull into the site next to us- it was our friend Matt who was riding down the peninsula solo on a DRZ400. Matt's what I call a Baja cowboy- he knows the nooks and crannies of the peninsula, speaks fluent Spanish and is just the kind of guy you want to travel with in Baja. I got up and welcomed him into camp- he was cold and tired having made up huge offroad miles to reach camp that night. I made sure he was set up and crawled back into my warm sleeping bag.

Matt's wheels.
The next morning we got to catch up and hear the tales of his offroad moto trip over a cup of hot, black coffee. The riding sounded really gnarly but I have to admit, it's something I'm going to have to do sometime myself. I told Matt about the natural hotsprings that I'd heard were just a couple coves away. I wanted to ride my moto over to them but two margaritas and the late hour of our arrival made it impossible. Matt said he'd go see what they were all about and report back to me about them. Saying our goodbyes, we hit the road leaving Matt to explore the hotsprings and making tentative plans to meet up at Punta Conejo, my favorite point in Baja for stand up paddle surfing.

And then there was surf! Words later, surf now.

The wind has been a little off. Blowing down the coast it's created fun waves for goofing around but nothing really to get too excited about. And then it switched offshore. Talk to you later... I'm out there!