Who would have guessed that such a textbook perfect July day in Baja could become so ugly in just a few hours?
Baja Angel, Kristi and I made the drive from San Diego Friday night... crossing at Tecate (to avoid Friday PM Calexico traffic into Mexico) for a quick drive to San Felipe... not getting dark until we were well south of Mexicali.
There is still 6 miles of dirt detour in the Rio Hardy area and a few detours in the Laguna Salada canal area, up and down from the road as they change the conduits or bridges.
The miltary checkpoint at the Hwy. 3 jcn. is checking both north and south bound vehicles equally (it used to be just northbound)... 31 more miles to San Felipe.
I made a log of some mileages south from San Felipe, all the way to Hwy. 1 at Laguna Chapala... Including where the new pavement ends now and extent of new roadbed work.
We arrived onto the island about 11:15 pm, well short of the next high tide... There was some sea water to cross by the concrete bridge, from the 18.0 foot high tide that afternoon... no problem...
Once onto the lower beach, I lowered the air pressure to 18 psi and that worked well on my Hankook Dynapro ATm tires. Camp got set up.... and then, off to sleep!
SATURDAY MORNING... was awesome... all blue skys, gentle breeze... the 2:29am high tide was still going out to the lowest point (8:41 am) so Kristi began walking the sand bars looking for goodies.
I was game for a swim that morning, but it required a half mile walk (or more) to reach the sea at low tide! Baja Angel was happy to just stay under the shade and relax.
We knew that Art and Nora (edm-1) were coming in the new, bigger 4WD motorhome... I took a couple of drives out to the bridge before high tide hoping to greet them or help them in... I drove back and joined Baja Angel and Kristi swimming and floating in front of our camp (now just a couple hundred feet from camp). That was great... water felt perfect... not as warm as in the past, very comfortable. (story continues below the photos)
West (where Art camped)
After the tide started going back out (about 3:30pm), I drove back to the bridge and took photos of the flooded area with just a slightly higher tide (18.2 feet) causing so much change in looks and making sure people can see it is an ISLAND!
This concrete bridge was built in 1984 and connected an elevated causeway across the flats and onto the island. The elevated roadbed has since dropped lower than the bidge and now most of the roadway is melted back to the flats... For a dozen-some years it provied an all tide acess onto the island.
Zoom photo of the road back to the desert (see drift sand at far end of tidal flats).
Driving back to camp after not finding Art.
No Art... back to camp for a siesta! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The sound of an engine struggling had me jump up and run to the sand dune by our tent with the binoculars... there was Art! He was across the lagoon on the salt flat road that runs between Laguna Percebu and Bahia Santa Maria. He was in a mud pit... He got out, and motored to a point across the lagoon from our camp on the island. The tide was still high enough to have the lagoon full of water, but at about 3 feet deep, I waded across to greet Art and Nora.
The amount of water at the bridge (on the access road onto the island) was a concern for him and he wisely elected not to cross it.
Knowing Art's mechanical skills at driving 4WD motorhomes (as in our adventure to Mision Santa Maria and onto Shell Island last year), I asked if he wanted to try it with me being a ride along harbor-pilot to guide him over the route my Tacoma took 17 hours earlier? Art was game, so we returned to the bridge and I walked in the water over my track from last night to show Art the depth and direction to charge across.
Sadly, the mud was just too slippery for the motorhome's weight and street tires, and even with front and rear lockers (and all tires spinning equally) the motorhome got only 20 feet into the water crossing. Backing up only slid the giant rig sideways and soon we had no forward or backward movement... But also we were not going down deeper in the mud. The ground below was firm... It was the 6" of wet, slimmy mud the stopped the coach.
Naturally, I felt mostly to blame for this mess... So, I had to be able to get Art and his 12,000 pound 4WD home out of there! Did I say the sun was close to setting and it was really going to take some Baja Magic to fix this??!!
A panga fishing camp is on Shell Island just a 1/4 mile south of the bridge and Art and I walked there with high hopes for help. (My Tacoma was 2 miles away, but it may not have been able to move such a huge thing if it was the only truck on the island.)
One fisherman was in camp, Esteban (Steven) who smiled and had us hop into his Ford 4X4 with fat rope onboard (used to pull the pangas way up on the beach). We motored out to Art's motorhome (I nicknamed the Titanic)... and with such ease, Esteban pulled Art's coach out of the wet and down the causeway to the dry salt flat. YEA!:bounce::bounce::bounce:
Photo Art took just before Esteban pulled out the Titanic!
Art drove the Titanic back to the area across from our camp... We were going to eat dinner together, but a sidewinder encounter (as they began heading towards the lagoon to cross it), had them decide to postpone our get-toghether until the following morning!!
I walked back over to our camp to find Kristi and Baja Angel just awakining from their siesta!!! It was getting pretty dark... I lit the lights and campfire... and figured Art and Nora were too exhausted to come over (we learned about the rattlesnake the next morning). We had some food and relaxed a short while... too short... :wow:
We watched the lightning show across the gulf (typical in summer... it stays over there in Sonora). However, this evening it was moving closer to us! The the wind picked up... Then things started flying! Kristi's nice sleeping bad blew into the fire... I grabbed it but there was damage, sadly. The sun canopy collapsed as we were taking it down... the legs buckled and broke!
Our dome tent was almost flattened from the hurricane-like wind and blowing sand... It would rip open allowing sand to jet into our tent. A miserable mostly sleepless night...
TO BE CONTINUED...