Thursday, November 22, 2012

Baja 1000

Baja Bug on the road just outside our camp in San Ignacio.
 When we were in Ensenada we saw a lot of race cars and support rigs gathering for the upcoming Baja 1000. We knew the race was coming up and had actually been advised to avoid it. As we traveled down Baja, we ran into a crew who gave us a map of the race so we were able to see where it intersected with the Mex 1 we were traveling on. We just happened to arrive in San Ignacio hours before the first motorcycle was supposed to come through, so we decided to stay and enjoy the action. It ended up being a really fun thing for us and the kids, and I'm so glad we did it. I've never been into racing but it was really fun and I learned a lot too. It was neat to get to talk with pit crews and racers and get caught up in the excitement of it all! Having just driven the highway through the desert I didn't envy these guys doing it off road one bit. 
The kids were super excited to watch the helicopter touch down. It's hard to see them, but Erik and the kids are standing in the foreground of the picture.

This was one of the "Baja Pits" set up for racers who don't have their own pit crew. Lots of tools, racing fuel, and other gear ready. This was just a short walk down the road from where we camped.

Motorcycles were the first to start coming through. We were pretty excited to see the first one! (This isn't it.) Trucks started coming close to 11 at night, and Erik and I stayed up and saw the first one go by. Cars followed sometime in the night, and the next day we saw lots of everything, including quads. 
Think there's a lot of money in these rigs? 

These guys were parked right outside the entrance to our campground waiting for their racer to come through. We visited with them a bit, and were excited to watch them switch drivers and tune up the bike when it came the next morning. 
Riff Raff Racing was a family affair. The driver's wife was part of the crew, and he was eagerly anticipating his son being old enough to race in a few years. He said his kids' school wouldn't let them out to come be part of the race and it made me so thankful we homeschool and can include these things in our kids' education. We talked with them for a while and cheered as they drove off.
I loved seeing the teams work together. The guys in the pit do so much, and then as soon as they send off their car, they all pile into their rigs to be able to meet up with them at the next place. It's a long, tiring race for everyone involved.
Peregrine and Raphael with the Riff Raff driver and navigator. My boys now have big plans to race together one day too! (Although Peregrine was a big grossed out by the pee tube coming out of the pant leg. No need to stop that way! I was curious how they dealt with "that", so I was glad to find out the answer to my question. And yes, I asked.) 
Riff Raff about to head back out. 
A bonus for the kids was the stickers many of the teams hand out. When we drove through Mulege later in the day, Mexican boys were swarming the chase rigs, holding up cardboard signs with "stickers" written on them. They were collecting quite a few! Our kids are putting theirs into their travel journals.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

San Ignacio

We camped beneath towering date palms. The kids happily collected dates to snack on.
    After spending nearly two weeks with my family in San Miguel, we finally headed south, making our way slowly across Baja's deserts. We intended to take three days to reach the beaches of Bahia Concepcíon. We only drive for four or five hours in a day, as that seems to be plenty for the driver (Erik), and the drivees, particularly the kids. We spent two nights in overpriced hotel parking lots with hook-ups, the first in El Rosario, the second in Guererro Negro. A night in both of those places was plenty. We were all looking forward to the beach and being done with driving for a while. I'd read that the church in San Ignacio was worth seeing, so we decided to drive into the little town, walk around, see the church, and have lunch before making the rest of the drive. 

    San Ignacio is a welcome sight to the desert weary traveler. A nearby spring feeds a pond and river, creating a lush date palm oasis. From the main highway we drove into town, hoping to find a place to park near the square. However, the usually quiet town was a bustle of activity, as they were expecting the first racers in the Baja 1000 to start rolling through within a few hours! Pit crews were set up along the side of the road and the square, anxiously awaiting their teams. We couldn't find a place to park so we hesitantly decided to leave. As we drove back toward the highway, we made the spontaneous decision to stay the night instead of continuing on. We are, after all, not tied to a schedule. And when else would we get to watch the Baja 1000 up close and personal? In the end we were so glad we stayed. 

The inside of the church, which was built as part of a Jesuit mission in the 1700s. It's surprisingly narrow inside due to walls that are four feet thick! It's constructed of volcanic stone.
We spent a fair bit of time wandering through the courtyard. I thought this corner was pretty.

The kids and I were excited to find this tiny nest in a huge lime tree. There were also several orange trees as well as a cactus garden. 

The front doors.

We pulled into a small camping area and were the only ones there. We were hardly alone though, as there were two pit crews at the entrance, right along the road. We had front row seats as motorcycles, cars, and trucks started to come through! I'll save pictures of the race for a separate post. 
A beautiful river ran right by our campground as well. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hotel Riviera del Pacífico

    One afternoon we visited the Centro Social, Civico, y Cultural in Ensenada. Built in the 30s, it was a luxury hotel and casino, the Hotel Riviera del Pacifico. It was during the time of prohibition in the United States, so it drew the rich and famous from north of the border. It has an interesting and varied history, operating at different times as a military base, hotel, and now as a museum and events center. An employee came upon us wandering through the building and gave us our own personal tour, which made our time there much more interesting. 

Once a grand entrance to the hotel, this is now the museum lobby. For a few dollars, we enjoyed our tour of the museum, which is really nicely done. It showcases the native peoples of the Baja peninsula, their way of life, food, flora and fauna, and the coming of the Spanish. The building itself is also fascinating, and I imagine if the walls could speak they'd have some stories to tell!
The entrance to what is now the museum.
Some cutie kids.
I love all the Spanish tile.
This was the ballroom. Our tour guide, like most people we've run into in Mexico, loved kids and didn't mind ours running and playing.
A picture of the hotel long ago. It's not quite this close to the water anymore.
This is an original chandelier in a huge, round room. The ceiling was quite beautiful.
Much of bar room is also original. It's said that the margarita was invented here. I wonder how many other places claim the same thing.
Peregrine complained of being bored while we were in the room with the huge chandelier. I told him this was the kind of place where movies were filmed, that at the last moment someone would surely cut the chain and send the whole thing crashing down on the villain's head. Bored no more, he made up a  movie plot in his head and has big plans to film it here when he grows up. (When he and Raphael aren't racing together in the Baja 1000.) Here you can see a bit of the rehearsal going on: Poppy has just been wounded by a bullet and Raphael is in a shootout with the villain. Erik and I often lament that our poor kids have no imagination.
I liked the bells.
And I have an affinity for St. Francis.
More tile... sigh.
The light was so pretty as we were leaving.
And of course we had to pull over on the way home so Erik could take a sunset picture!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Week Through Erik's Lens

    I'm sitting by a pool, watching my big three play and swim while Pearl naps and Erik takes a rest. Today we're in Mulegé, Baja California Sur, Mexico. We left San Miguel a week ago and spent a couple of days driving south across the desert of Baja. Our destination was the beaches of Bahia Concepcíon, where we've been camping the last few days. On the way we ran into the Baja 1000 and got caught up in the excitement of the race while enjoying a rest in the beautiful date palm oasis of San Ignancio. We've mostly not had internet service, but we've taken lots of photos. Here are a few through Erik's lens. Aren't they beautiful? 
While we were in San Miguel, Erik would often take the early birds out for a walk. He captured this sky one morning after it had rained. 

During a walk through Ensenada's famous Fish Market, Erik appreciated how artistically the shrimp were arranged. I was so proud of my kids traipsing through the market, being fascinated and not disgusted. I strongly disliked this place when I was young. 



We had yummy fish tacos.

An entrance to the old Riviera Hotel in Ensenada, where the Marguerita was (supposedly) invented. I have to wonder how many other places have the same claim to fame.

A sampling of the desert. It went on. And on. And on. For days. 

The tree on the right is called cirio or boojum. They seemed rather like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Interestingly, the English name boojum is taken from a Lewis Carrol poem.

This is Mex 1, the Transpeninsular Highway. It's narrow and often winding. Erik did an amazing job driving and pulling our trailer. 

Erik's comment on this one was, "Do they look well?" I spent a couple days feeling pretty rotten and so did my girlie. One night I fell asleep about 8 o'clock, only to be awakened an hour later by a feverish little girl. For some reason Erik thought this was a great photo op. 

A literal oasis in the desert, San Ignacio was an unplanned but very welcome stop.

Camped amongst the date palms. The Baja 1000 ran right by and we happened to be there in time for the action.

Sunrise over Bahia Concepcíon. This has been our front yard for the last few days. 

    We're heading back to the beach tomorrow and will camp there for a few more days, until we need to come back for fresh water, groceries, and to charge batteries again. I realized today that Thanksgiving is in a few days and asked the kids what is important to them. Poppy's first reply was, "to be thankful!" and I'm sticking with that. Peregrine went grocery shopping with me and was thrilled to find a can of cranberry sauce, which, given the nature of the store, was a bit of a surprise. So we shall have cranberry sauce to go with our thankful hearts.  I also bought a chunk of some sort of squash and will attempt a pie. I hope that wherever you are, your hearts are also filled with thanks this week! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful: Family

    Tonight I'm oh so thankful for the family I was born into, and the one I married into. (My immediate family deserves their very own hurrah. I've been blessed to live near my parents and a few of my siblings and love them all so much.) Over the last few months I've gotten to spend more time getting to know some of my extended family and have felt so very blessed. It's made me realize how important family is, not just parents and siblings, but the greater family as well. I grew up far from any relatives and for most of my childhood we would go a couple years without seeing grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It's meant so much to me to get to know them more deeply as adults. There is shared history and memories and I'm so glad for the time we've had together. 

We spent nearly two weeks in a small village in Mexico where my dad's family has generations of history. There my kids got to know my cousins' kids, and it was so fun to watch them play together, just like we did 25 years ago. Here Raphael watched the sea lions with my cousin's son. Pearl made a special friend in his little sister as well.

In the restaurant my great grandfather "Poppa Tom" started, my Tia and prima sing Feliz Cumpleaños to Peregrine on his tenth birthday. We had such a special time with our familia here!
On our way through California we stopped to visit my Grams, my dad's mom. She is such a wonderful and dear woman, and I treasure each time I get to see her. Erik watched the kids so she, my Aunt Terry, and I could sit and visit for a few hours. I felt so blessed by their company, their encouragement, and shared stories.
The kids LOVE Auntie Terry, and she loves them. So special. 
We spent a couple nights with another of my dad's siblings, my Uncle Dan and Aunt Cathie. Although it had been 18 years since I'd seen them last, we were warmly welcomed and felt so at home there. They truly value family and even had a surprise birthday dinner for Peregrine. 
Erik's mom and dad, Claud and Michele, gave up their vacation plans to come spend a week with us in Oregon. They were right with us through the last several days of packing and moving out of our home, and then we all spent a few days at the coast together. It was a tiring and emotional time, and we were so very blessed by their help and encouragement. I couldn't ask for more wonderful inlaws!
    I'm grateful too that my children are getting to know their extended family, and hope they will have deep relationships with many of them as they grow.