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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.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Baja is A Special Place

Baja is a special place. The draw and appeal is personal and influences people in so many different ways, some find it inspires them to spread their artist wings and some become adventurers and explorers.

However, it is not for everyone, and that's okay with me. The fact the Baja is still wild in many parts is attractive to me, but some people come, leave and never return, without ever having been touched by the Baja magic.

I'm okay that it's rough around the edges and lacks the polish of our northern neighbors. It was the lack of rules, regiment, even paved roads that I loved so much and drew me back year after year, and still pulls me from one place to another in search of Baja utopia . . . but, how long will it last?

Baja is being upgraded. I love it and hate it all the same; I love being able to drive past San Felipe and continue south on a paved highway, but then I begin feeling selfish when I realize that the ease of getting there will open it up to those that would never have considered traveling any distance on rocky washboard roads.

Over the last couple of years, we've watched the road from the checkpoint to San Felipe turn into a
four lane, the road from El Golfo to Peñasco paved, the road south of Ensenada widened, highway 19 from La Paz to Todos Santos, to Cabo San Lucas all being widened and improved, and many others.

What does it all mean? The obvious answer is the government realized that a good highway system means more tourism and more money. It also means more development, more building, more of everything—almost. It will, however, mean less of the Baja I remember as a kid. Less of what I fell in love with, and, oh yes, certainly less tire repair.

I sometimes feel hypocritical. I want so much to share my passion for Baja that Rachel and I promote concerts, home expos and anything we can to promote this amazing place. I want people to feel what I feel, to love it the way I do. But, I can never get past the feeling that I'm doing something wrong; I'm contributing to the demise of my love . . . Baja.

Last month, Rachel and I decided to take Highway 5 south from San Felipe instead of up around Ensenada then south. The road is affectionately known as the "San Felipe Trail" by those that have taken it, and for years it was not much more than just that, a trail. We were both aware of the road conditions, and have taken it to Gonzaga Bay, both south from San Felipe and north from Highway 1. But over the last year, much work has been done and we wanted to find out how much for ourselves. What we found was amazing. From Puertecitos south, they had paved 15 miles of the nicest, widest road I'd seen in Baja, and another five to eight was graded. It made it all the way around the mountains and they were on the home stretch to Gonzaga—it was smooth and beautiful. It was about that time that I felt guilty again. Damnit, why can't I hate that beautiful road? Once I was off the road and bolts in my car started rattling, I remembered.

Progress is coming and whether we like it or not, it will be here. So, if you are like me and love the wildness of it, the rough edges and lack of polish, I highly suggest you fill your tank, check the spare, load the boat and get out there and experience the magic of Baja . . . as it is today.

Rachel Pack, Brenda Judy, John Pack and Steve Judy at the end of the paved road, south of Puertecitos, Baja. Photo by Gene Jensen

Stretch of Baja Highway 5 heading south. Photo by Rachel Pack
Road sign marking the entrance to an artists home, north of Puertecitos, Baja. Photo by Rachel Pack

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