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The Pack Family Journal is a place where we gather text and images of our lives, adventures and travels. This is a very personal site, written openly and honestly. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 2009 - Gypsy Journal

All the photos can be clicked on, to get full size.
Photo credits and captions, top to bottom. Uses as many or as few as you like.
1. Brent, Joe, Julie and John wading in clear warm waters of Isla de Coronado, by Rachel Pack
2. Rachel takes self portrait with everyone in background, by Rachel Pack
3. Rachel takes self portrait with Cai, who is clearly happy on her first boat trip, by Rachel Pack
4. John and Brent watch Cai play on the beach, by Rachel Pack
5. Brent's boat rests on shore with crystal clear waters, by John Pack

A Gypsy is defined as an itinerant: a laborer who moves from place to place as demanded by employment. One of the best things about being a gypsy and traveling to work is the discoveries and people along the way.

One such discovery was San Javier Mission and the new friend we made in the process. Everyone we spoke to would say, "have you been to San Javier Mission?" Of course, we hadn't, having just arrived and, at the time, only having bicycles for transportation.

San Javier is 23 miles up into the Sierra Gigante mountains behind Loreto and we were not about to ride our bikes. We had heard the road was incomplete and the first portion is a vertical climb until you reach the high plateau at the mountain top. Fortunately, we met Brent Currier, a resident of the RV park, where we're staying; he had made the trip many times and offered to give us a tour.

At mile marker 7, we stopped to visit the rock paintings at a canyon oasis, and although the paintings were not too impressive, not for lack of talent, but rather because they were faded and worn, the oasis was very impressive. Even now, a hundred years or more later it was clear why this area was selected; tall palms, a creek that has run down through solid rock for hundreds of years, creating a deep channel and some great swimming holes.

As it turned out, the road was completed nearly half way, turning to dirt at the 10 mile mark, which was nearly to the top. From there the road turned to gravel and rock, and it was clear to see why it hadn't move beyond this point yet, 100 yards past the pavement was what appeared to be a very tough area for construction; a slope around a narrow, solid rock corner. Plus, it was August and very hot this time of the year. Fortunately, the day we took the trip, we had some cloud cover and it wasn't too bad.

At the top of the mountain were large ranches in a canyon of yet high mountain peaks and on the fare side of the canyon was our destination, the village of San Javier and the Spanish Mission of San Francisco Javier. This was one of the most well-preserved missions in Baja, standing proud and beautiful over 250 years old. Behind the mission are olive trees that were planted by the original Spaniards and there is an active aqueduct with running canals (see the September 2009 edition for the story of San Javier).

On the road back to Loreto, just before reaching the highway, we stopped at Del Borracho Saloon and Grill for an ice cold draft Modelo Negro and a mouthwatering burger. Any trip to San Javier is not complete without a stop at this saloon.

Our next discovery was the Isla de Coronado, which is on the northern end of the Bay of Loreto Marine Park. This is the third protected marine bioregion in the Gulf of California, joining ranks with the Upper Gulf/Lower Colorado Biosphere Reserve to the north above San Felipe and the Cabo Pulmo Reserve to the south. The park is fairly small, covering approximately 1,283 miles (roughly a half million acres) in the Sea of Cortez. The five islands lying within the designated Bay of Loreto Park boundaries include Islas Coronado, Carmen, Danzante, Montserrat and Santa Catalina.

Our friend Brent, once again, took us on a tour, only this time on his boat. We were joined by our new friends Joe and Julie Whelan. The water of the island was as blue and clear as any I have seen. We spent the afternoon exploring around the amazing volcanic island and wading off the white sandy beach and diving off the boat into the crystal waters. We also discovered that during the hot summer months small jellyfish migrate in the Sea of Cortez. Some of these animals are so tiny that you'll barely be able to see them. Fortunately, the sting isn't painful, and for many people it isn't much more than an itching sensation.

Even our dog Cai made discoveries this month, she discovered she enjoyed boat rides and she discovered she actually could swim. Both of which were great discoveries of our own, because the water has always and will always be a big part of our life, and considering she is a desert dog and had never been on a boat before, this was a wonderful discovery. She enjoyed the island as much as we did and ran up and down the beach, exploring. But, the most surprising discover was finding out, after the fact, that bringing dogs on the island is a $2,000 fine. Ouch!