A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico

Project: One Good Photograph A Day

Attempting to capture one good photo, Ocean Scenes, Island Scenes, Desert Scenes, and Dolphins

sunny 73 °F

I like to think I take one good photograph a day. Now, I realize this idea is purely subjective. When I say this, I realize that not everyone would agree with me on what a good photograph would consist of, or agree on my choice of “good” photographs. However, I am the only judge in this competition of self-satisfaction, and so I only have to please myself to place in this contest.

That being said, I offer you my subjects for the past week. I do not take photographs everyday, some days I am either too busy, or nothing of interest caught my eye. On other days, it seems like I take up my camera at dawn and set it down after sunset. This week, there were only two days that I didn’t take out my camera, and so offer other satisfying pictures I captured to balance out my week.

These photos are of various subjects on the Sea of Cortez, east of the peninsula of Baja California Sur.

LONG BILLED DOWITCHER
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I was strolling along the boardwalk near the beach one early morning after work. The human-like early birds of La Paz were all out, walking, jogging, biking or sitting. La Paz is a friendly city, and I nodded to a lot of people, offering a sincere, “Buen Dias” and receiving the same with a smile in return. The sidewalk neared the edge of the sea, and I noticed this Long Billed Dowitcher foraging for its morning meal. I stopped at a bench, took out my camera, and took this photo of the bird.

ON THE CUSP OF SHADOW AND LIGHT
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I had spent the afternoon perched on a bluff high above the emerald green waters of San Juanico. It was an amazing place to hang out. Turkey vultures soared by riding the wind currents not more than 35 feet away from me (probably an exaggeration). I was exposed to the elements, and therefore in my element. Upon descending (also known as skidding recklessly down) the trail, I was making my way back along the beach to the land when this scene appealed to me. I have always loved shadows, especially when I can position myself on the very edge of dark and light. In this zone, the light moves very quickly, but I find these scenes to be quite alluring compared to full on shadow or full on light.

ORGAN PIPE CACTUS ON THE NORTH RIDGE OF DANZANTE
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I went for a hike on Isla Danzante (Island of the Dancer). This is a great name for an island. The Spanish supposedly name it when they found the island. There was a clutch of native folk rejoicing in their way-- dancing up a storm. I was performing my own dance on this beautiful island. I had climbed my way to the highest point on the north end of the island. It was a scramble up a steep loose gravel trail. It was mildly taxing, but not that long. I had climbed to this point last year, and when I reached the top, I decided I wanted more.

Looking southward, I saw another high point that I had never climbed, and it sparked my interest. To get there, I was going to traverse the north ridge of Danzante. This was no easy task. The entire ridge looked to be made of crumbling rock along a narrow knife-edge. I pondered my moves, and held firm to my one spot of good footing. I decided that I would only take one step to see how it was. If I didn’t like it, I could take one step back, and call it a day. So I took that step, and it held true. It turns out, the worst looking part of the traverse held the best footing. I would have never known, if I hadn’t tried. Halfway across the ridge, and finally on better ground, I found this attractive clump of organ pipe cactus. It was an easy composition, and I decided upon a sepia exposure, as there just wasn’t much color to the scene. When there is not much color in a scene, why try to make a color image?

FIRST LIGHT ON PUERTO LOS GATOS
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To me, the Sierra de la Giganta, are among the prettiest mountain ranges in North America. Their dramatic backdrop has improved many of my photographs, and I’m longing for the day when I can spend an entire month roaming along their rugged peaks and deep arroyos.

We were on approach to our morning anchorage just as the sun came up. I had time to take these photographs of the beautiful morning glow that reflected off the sandstone to a gentle orange blush.

ANIMALS IN FLIGHT
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I am lucky. I’ve been blessed with very good photographic timing, and I offer this shot as my proof. I had never taken a successful picture of a magnificent frigate bird before this shot. We were watching a feeding frenzy take place on the surface of the ocean just off the rocky point of Los Gatos. This frigate bird flew by fairly close to where I was standing, and I panned my camera along with it in flight shooting the whole way. I didn’t know the common dolphin was airborne as well, until I looked at the photo on my computer. When I saw it, I laughed aloud. How lucky can a guy get?

This is my favorite picture of the week.

FEEDING FRENZY
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As I mentioned, we were watching a full-blown feeding frenzy take place not more than a hundred yards away from the boat. There were common dolphins driving the bait to the surface, and the sea birds were getting in on the action. It was interesting watching the various techniques used by the birds, the large brown pelicans would fly above the mass and dive missile like into the ball breaking through the surface with their large beaks. The frigate birds don’t like to get wet, and would streak in, hovering briefly to snap up a fish with it’s beak before snapping its wing and gliding away. The frigate bird looks to be the inspiration to the skydiver’s spandex wing suit. It has a forked tail, and narrow, yet very maneuverable black wings. The gulls would simple land, and swim nipping at the bits left by the others before squawking and moving on.

It was awesome to watch this kind of behavior first hand, and not on a nature documentary.

SUNRISE OVER ISLA SAN JOSE
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Looking at the pre-dawn sky, I knew the sunrise had potential to be a good one. It isn’t often that there is a nice layer of scattered clouds over the eastern horizon on the Sea of Cortez. As the sun climbed closer to the horizon, the most brilliant oranges I have seen in some time began to erupt over the island. I finished my duties as quickly as I could in order to have time to grab my camera and document this amazing display. The last zodiac full of guests was heading directly into the fiery sky, and it was an easy leading line into the scene. I shot my fill, and then went up to the highest point on the ship to drink this scene into my memory.

CARDON CACTUS OVER ENSENADA GRANDE
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Having worked a full day, all I wanted to do was go to the beach and go for a swim. This seems like and easy enough task to accomplish, but in reality, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. During the full moon, the tides on the Sea of Cortez pull a little higher than normal, and the shallow bay of Ensenada Grande is victim to them. I could not get a ride to the shore, I had to get out and shuffle my feet a hundred yards or so to get to the beach. From there, I took off my life jacket, and proceeded to walk another hundred yards along the shore back out into the bay to find water deep enough to sit down in. It felt good, and I sat there with my body immersed up to my neck in beautifully clear green water. Satisfied, I stepped out of the water and air dried. Who needs a towel in the desert? Not me. As I was about to make my way back to the populated beach, I noticed a cardon cactus with some character perched high above me. I thought about it, and figured with the right angle, I could make a compelling scene of the cactus and the bay. So I went rock climbing. How did going for a swim get so complicated? Anyway, I love spontaneous decisions, and my hunch was well rewarded.

I couldn't resist one more.

DOLPHINS TAKE FLIGHT
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Cheers to a great week down in Mexico!

Posted by Rhombus 13:14 Archived in Mexico Tagged birds islands wildlife hiking mexico deserts sunrise oceans dolphins photography Comments (1)

A Week on the Sea of Cortez

Beach Combing on Isla Montserrat, How Puffer Fish Thwarted Death, The End of My Day, San Juanico

I made my first island landfall on south side of Isla Montserrat. It felt good to be one of the two humans standing on the large desert island in the balmy winter waters of the Sea of Cortez. I had never been to this particular beach on Montserrat, having made several landings on the north side of the island last year. See Time Management and the Modern Explorer
[http://rhombus.travellerspoint.com/70/].

I jumped off the zodiac into knee-deep water and walked ashore letting my senses make the initial investigation. I was tired having worked all night from 7 pm to 7 am, but I find when I get tired, I am more in tune with the details of life. That is a good thing. The beach subsisted of hard packed compressed sand with lots of ancient seashells mixed in the particles. It created shelves of hard earth that I stepped onto like humongous stairs as I walked along the jutting shoreline I had no real intentions of walking far, I was tired, but happy to be ashore.
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We walked northwest along the beach amidst the harsh protests of the gulls. I believe they had some eggs hidden amongst the rocks, and seeing their distress, I chose to give them a wide berth walking across the gravel desert plain covered in familiar desert plants. It was kind of like meeting acquaintances from your past, “Hey, I remember you, Mr. Sour Pitaya. And there is a Chain Link Cholla.“ I zigzagged my way around the desert garden, assuming the wandering path of a snake to lead me through.
What I Found On The Beach
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Climbing down a rock shelf I found myself once again on the shore and surrounded by the white skeletons of sun dried lobster. I wonder why so many lobsters die here? The beach offered no clues, but the lobsters themselves, and they were not talking. I wandered back to my friend and looked at what she had found. She showed me quite a few vertebrae, shells, casings, invertebrate homes and the like. It was quite a feast for the eyes. It wasn’t long before I became totally absorbed into digging around the bone bits and fragments of shells that made up the top layer of beach. It was a fine way to spend a couple of hours of the morning.
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How Puffer Fish Thwarted Death
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I found a medium sized Puffer Fish fighting for its life, caught on the edge of sand that separates water from land. It was beached, and a fish on land just does not do very well for itself-- compared to a fish in water. I decided to document its struggles, rooting for the little guy to make his escape, and snub Death for another day. I pondered how came to be in such dire straits: I think it lost track of the receding tide, and one big wave pushed it onto the beach. The tide still in the early stages of flooding taking some time before more waves could reach the fish.

This puffer fish was lucky. It hung in there, conserving energy and making the best of it, waiting for a wave to reach it.

The fish was gulping for air, and to be honest, its odds didn’t look that good. It looked happy, but that was just the shape of its mouth, and not necessarily its disposition. After a few minutes of dry gulps, a single wave came far enough ashore to submerse the head of Puffer Fish, allowing for a few breaths at first, and then as a few more waves reached it, a few kicks of the tail (but still to no avail).
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As the tide began to rise, more and more waves made it far enough ashore to reach the puffer fish, allowing for a few important breaths. I began to root aloud, and my friend looked at me quizzically, but said nothing, as she has been around me long enough to accept my eccentricities. Finally, a strong wave washed up and sucked the puffer fish back into the intertidal zone where it makes its home.

The End of the Day

I love the six o’clock hour. For one thing, it marks the end of my day and I can usually ease through the last hour of my workday with ease, having completed all of my chores and projects by that time. It also marks the start of the day for everyone else, and I enjoy the feeling of winding down while others are winding up. I’ve always enjoyed being a nonconformist.

I love watching the sunrise. It begins subtle, a slight lightening of the sky to the southeast. Clouds, islands become more distinct from the dark of night. The stars wink out, one by one, fading into the beautiful dark blue of high atmospheres (from my vantage). As the sun nears the horizon, it trumpets its arrival with an intensifying shade of gold appearing around the breaking point. Often this heralding also highlights the clouds far above the scene adding to the dynamics. The air is fresh and flowing. It immerses me with coolness before the coming of the heat of the day. It is kind of like wading slowly into 70-degree water. It is neither too hot nor cold, but refreshing all the same. It is comfortable to be in a tee shirt in the balmy weather of the region.

Finally, the sun breaks the surface, and for a few minutes, the encompassing golden glow holds all of us on deck entranced in its beauty.
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I just realized it is only day two…

Morning Recess At Punta San Juanico

I was dragging ass all night. I was tired, weary, but functioning, and definitely not ambitious. The dawn came as it usually does, and I regained some energy catching a fourth wind. Then seven o’clock rolled around, and I checked out for the day. The sunlight had once again revived me from my nightly occupations; that of cleaning, fixing, and patrolling the ship I work on and call home.

I arranged a ride to shore with our bosun and soon I was once again standing on a sandy beach with my good lady in tow. It was good to be back at San Juanico, Last year I went for a long ridge walk high above the bay to a secluded little cove. I didn’t have the energy for that this year, and I wanted to explore some of the beaches on the north side of the bay.

We walked into the desert wanting to traverse around a high rock bluff which would’ve required us to rock climb, scramble and most likely fall down the other side. The desert was quiet. Deserts have a sublime silence to them, which I appreciate. I tried to be very quiet, and added no sound except that of our footsteps.

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As we made it around the bluff, we found a small river banked in bright green bushes. What a contrast to the drab colors of the surrounding landscape. We disturbed the cormorants, herons, and ibis that were hanging out there, and they flew off with their warning squawks.
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We passed into the bright sunshine once again, and I stripped off my tee shirt to feel the warmth of the sun that much better. I wanted to find a tide pool or at least a Sally Lightfoot, and so I hiked up onto a rocky point. Just beyond the rock shelf was another sandy beach perhaps a hundred yards long and arced beautifully to another jutting triangular point of rock. The beach was bordered by the large rock bluff that I had just walked around. The scene was inviting, and I knew I would soon be underwater.
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I stripped down to my knickers, stepped out of my sandals and tested the water. It was perfect, not a trace of warmth to be found, and I commenced to sing my “frozen balls” song as I waded up to my knees, then my waist, and belly. I love wading into cold water, I really do. It’s very refreshing, and to do it slowly takes all the shock out of it, prolongs your suffering which in turn builds character. For some reason, I always hold my arms out of the water as long as possible. I’m beginning to think my armpits are actually calling the shots, and not my brain. Looking at the scene from there perspective, this seems logical. Anyway, I gave in and dunked myself under the clear, aquamarine tinged, salty tasting seawater.
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Having no towel, I sun dried myself, and caught the next zodiac back to the ship. I ate a dinner of bacon and eggs, crepes, sausage and orange juice, took a long hot shower, and settled into my bunk for another “night” of slumber.

Good Night!

Posted by Rhombus 07:40 Archived in Mexico Tagged beaches fish desert ocean rocks Comments (2)

To Baja By Hammock

An Evening Spent in a Hammock, Sensing Baja, Our Passage South

sunny 63 °F

We have reached the Cape (Land’s End near Cabo San Lucas) and the tropics. The air is humid, the air temperature is comfortable and warm. I’m back in my desert paradise. It hasn’t really set in, I suppose. I think it will when I see a pod of dolphins leaping through the air, or when I hike around the giant boulders of Bonanza Beach, and most definitely, when I swim for the first time. Where I come from, swimming in December is a death sentence. Down here, it’s like dipping yourself into the fountain of youth: so rejuvenating.

I rose out of bed at about 3 p.m. I went up stairs, fixed myself a breakfast of honey on toast, apple juice, and a double shot Americano. I brought it up to the bow, and sat down on one of our line lockers to eat. As I enjoyed the crunchiness of my toast, I realized a post breakfast in the hammock would be just the thing to start this day off right.
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I set it up on the bow, stringing the slap straps between our anchor box rails and portside bow rail. Then I grabbed a pillow, two books, a journal, and my camera. I wrote in my journal (in fact, everything you are reading is excerpted from my journal), and read from Yutang’s “The Importance of Living.” I wish I had brought my hammock last year, but now I am a year older and a year wiser. I’m still living a good life.
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It is glorious. I’m rocking easy with the swells, comfortable in my nylon nest. The sun is setting, beginning its last hour of sunlight in the sky. The distant mountains of the Sierra de la Giganta are layer in the humid mists of the tropics. The sky is serene. Light cirrus clouds wisp southeasterly. The distant thrum of the engines is constant, and my white noise is occasionally broken by the non-distinct words of passing crew. The best noise is that of the wake off our hull. It’s a soothing chuffing rhythm, a rolling breaking wave followed by a moment of quiet before another crash of water sliced over on top of itself. The air is a mixture of ocean saltiness and cool humid air. Finally, though I am not eating, I realize that this tastes a lot like paradise. I’m glad to be back.
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Our passage south was uneventful. We had one day of sloppy seas, the ocean had become quite confused with ocean swells and wind blown surface chop coming from two different directions. We rocked side to side for most of the day, making it very difficult to work or sleep. I enjoyed it. I love being at sea, and I accept what the ocean offers with a calm appreciation. You cannot fight the ocean, you just have to accept it and go with the flow. The ocean is a great metaphor for life.

I’ve been working nights once again, and I enjoyed seeing the beauty of the night. This week, the thinnest sliver of a waning moon would rise just before sunrise. Looking at it through binoculars is still one of my favorite views of the moon.

In working this shift, I would watch the sunrise break over the ocean scape, eat a good dinner of bacon and eggs with orange juice and go to bed by 8 a.m. Often I would sleep until sunset, stepping out my cabin to a glorious arrangement of colorful sun, sea and cloud.
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So begins my next Baja adventure. “Ah, Is this not happiness?”

Posted by Rhombus 18:35 Archived in Mexico Tagged boats deserts sunsets oceans baja hammocks Comments (0)

Sailing the West Coast: La Paz, Mexico to San Diego, CA

On Night Shift, The Life of a Sailor, Tattoos, and San Diego

overcast 59 °F

I’m forty miles out to sea, heading north along the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. It’s a bit snuffy out here. There are 4 to 6 foot waves hitting off of our port bow, gives us a long diagonal roll (forward to aft) followed by a sharper sway (side to side) to compensate. It’s been gradually building since we rounded the southern tip of the peninsula, also known as “the cape”, “land’s end“, and Cabo San Lucas.

Last night we were able to see how well we lashed down all of the loose objects on board. It was a good first test, and we passed. As seas build, the violent movement of the ship increases exponentially. We’ll see how things go when there are eight foot seas.

In the night, we discovered a leak on our forward port, and a mysterious creaking noise coming from the forecastle. There isn’t much we can do about the leak now, except sop up the trickle of water with towels, and keep our eye on it.

The chief engineer and I explored the bilges underneath the forecastle to discover where the creaking noise was coming from. To crawl in the bilges in a heaving ship isn’t easy. It’s a cramped space, with no place to comfortably put a foot down, and plenty of hard, sharp edges to hit one’s head upon. We discovered the sound was from an aluminum deck plate, creaking with the bend of metal in the swells. It was nothing to worry about.

I’m working the night shift. My shift runs from 8 pm to 6 am, and for me it’s a fun shift to work. I volunteered for it, actually. The other deckhands we have are relative new comers and a bit green (literally). The most seasoned one has only been here just over a month, and the other two have just arrived. I’ve been here six months, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but believe me, it is. I’ve been on this ship continuously longer than everyone else on board. Since October, I’ve been living the life of a sailor onboard this ship. It’s a good life; it’s more like a working vacation for me. It has allowed me to explore some amazing desert islands and to live more amazing ocean experiences than I would have otherwise. I’ve swam with whale sharks. I’ve kissed a gray whale. I’ve swam in bioluminescence. I’ve climbed some amazing desert mountains few people take the time to admire.
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The night shift is fun. There are three of us working in the night. One of the mates drives the vessel, an engineer is around to help out and to take control if there is something wrong with our engines or steering. I’m walking the decks to make sure everything is secured, make engine rounds, and look for trouble. I take it sincerely, I’m the first line of defense if there is anything wrong (such as the leak in the forward lounge), and there is no place I’d rather be.

I enjoy navigating the decks of a heaving ship in the salt spray, wind and dark. It makes me feel alive, and its fun to rely on your own athletic ability and know how in adverse conditions. I love the life of a sailor. I love the history, the ocean, and the unknown. There is something addicting about the ocean that calls to certain people. It satisfies the wanderlust in me, and makes me happy. I’m experiencing a part of the world (and life), that very few people have ever experienced. I’m going to be proud to say I’ve sailed from the Baja peninsula all the way up the west coast of North America to Alaska.

I’ll have earned my sparrow. There is a tradition of tattooing among sailors, with different symbols standing for different feats.

The sparrow indicates having sailed 5000 miles. A swallow indicates every 5000 miles sailed. So two swallows would be 10000 miles. I think I’ll have earned two swallows by the end of this voyage. Sailors get swallows because they always know the way home. I’m not sure I know the way home anymore…

I want to get an anchor tattoo on my right forearm, ala Popeye style. To earn it, I’ll have to sail on the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve also could put a compass rose or two stars, so I always know where I’m going. I like the idea of putting crosses on the bottom of my feet to ward off sharks…

The following is a list of Traditional sailor decoration and meanings.

Sailors got their ears pierced because it helps improve eyesight (I think it’s an acupuncture site).
A black pearl earring for survivors of a sinking ship.
Golden earrings were used as a means of ensuring they were buried properly should they die at sea or in a foreign port.
In modern times a brass earring denoted a survivor of a ship sinking.
One left ear piercing for crossing each of the Equator, Artic Circle, and Antarctic Circle.
Earrings were thought to keep spirits from entering through the ear, but that's not a purely sailor thing.
A sparrow for every 5000 thousand nautical miles traveled,
A sailor would get a swallow tattoo for every 5000 miles he had sailed.
A swallow because it will always find its way home.
A rooster and pig on the ankles are to prevent a sailor from drowning.
The pig and the rooster are tattooed on either the calves or the top of the feet, to prevent a sailor from drowning. These animals were originally carried on most ships in wooden crates. When a ship goes down these crates would float and then catch currents and wash ashore with the other debris from the ship, making the pigs and roosters often the only souls to survive a shipwreck.
A tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified "Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight."
Tattoos of pigs and chickens were to make sure they always had their ham and eggs so that they never go hungry.
A turtle standing on its back legs (shellback) for crossing the equator and being initiated into King Neptune’s Court.
A tattoo of King Neptune if you crossed the Equator.
Crossed anchors on the web between the thumb and index finger for a boson’s mate.
Royal Navy tattoos of palm trees for the Mediterranean cruises in WWII.
Many US sailors have a palm tree or hula girl from Hawaii.
The words HOLD and FAST were tattooed on the knuckles to help hold line.
Hold Fast across the knuckles to keep them from falling overboard or dropping a line.
Anchor tattoo for sailing the Atlantic.
Full rigged ship for sailing around Cape Horn.
Dragon Tattoo for a sailor who had sailed into port in China
A Golden Dragon was for sailors who had crossed the International Date Line.
Rope around the wrist for being a dockhand.
Two stars to ensure always knowing the way.
The anchor usually noted that the sailor was in the merchant marine.
Guns or crossed cannon for military naval service.
Harpoons for the fishing fleet.
Crosses on the soles of one's feet to ward off hungry sharks.
A nautical star, or compass rose was to always find your way home.
A dagger through a rose signified a willingness to fight and kill even something as fragile as a rose.
Many sailors also got pornographic images so that they would always have them with them.

I found this list using a basic search engine. I think it is an interesting list. In fact, I read it aloud to the crew sitting around me in the dining room. To be sure, there are a lot of tattoos onboard this boat, though most of them aren’t nautical tats. I’ve yet to get a tattoo, but I’m making my mind up on the matter as I write this. :-D
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So far my favorite scenes on this voyage have been right at dawn. There was a carpet of very low clouds stretching all the way to the horizon. The sea was relatively flat and calm rising and falling in the swell like the breathing of a slumbering child. The sun broke over the horizon, showed itself for a minute and disappeared above the clouds. It was very peaceful. I sipped my tea, leaned on the rail, and thought about where I was and what I was doing with my life. I had to smile.

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This marks the end of the first leg of this journey. We docked in San Diego, California to clear customs, take on fuel, stores, and water. I haven’t spent a lot of time in San Diego, and it wasn’t looking like I was going to. I was tired from working all night, and was basically staying up so I could clear customs.
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Coming into a big port by way of water is a great way to get a look at a city. We were cruising at roughly 8 mph, which compared to the speed of a car on the freeway, is crawling. I leaned on the rail and watched the cityscape open before me. Low clouds hung over the downtown buildings, and reflected off the water of the channel. It was peaceful, and perfect scenery for my tired eyes.
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Tired as I was, it was good to see the city. The sea gets monotonous at times, especially when you are so far away from land. There isn’t much to see, but water and sky, with the occasional bird or mammal. To see land lubbers going about their daily life is interesting to us seafaring folk. I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like to drive a car again…

So Long from the coast of California, heading to points north.

Posted by Rhombus 16:15 Archived in Mexico Tagged boats oceans sailing photography dawn tattoos sailors Comments (3)

Landscapes and Seascapes of Baja Mexico

Spatial Experiences By Land and Sea

sunny 80 °F

There is a timeless quality to the landscapes of the southern Baja Peninsula. I feel as though if I visited these same vistas five hundred years ago to compare, nothing would have changed. They are timeless. The peninsula is perhaps one of world’s greatest interactive natural history museums.

These are peaceful views of incredible magnificence. They have grandeur.

From Land

Punta Friars on the East Cape
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I’m sitting high up on a rock far above the coastline and watching the quiet movements of the earth cycle and flow. The swells are deceptive. They are a lot bigger than they look from the sea. They roll in and stretch over the beach in a thinning white carpet of foam. The distant coastal mountains arc back, and form “points” out to the sea. The sun has warmed everything, the rocks, the earth, the sand, and me. There is always a wind here, and I’ve grown accustomed to its enveloping embrace around me. It’s like getting a soft hug from a swirling warm ghost all day long. The sun also provides the light, which make this whole gambit possible.

I don’t know it yet, but In a few minutes, I’ll be sprinting over two hundred yards of boulders to assist in helping a kayaker who flipped over in the big swell get back to shore. But I don’t know that yet, and so for these last few minutes, I’m at peace. It is kind of funny how life is; you just never know what’s going to happen next. One second I’m completely at ease, and the next I’m completely in motion in body and mind. Let this be a lesson to you Chuck: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean.

Boojum Trees and Skylight
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I love bright, diffused light through thin clouds.

To Hike Punta Juanico
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It was an unexpected stop at an unknown location. It looked cool. When I say cool, it means it was gorgeous, and better yet, I could get on the beach and explore. I was ahead of the curve by two hours--I was alone and had a plan. I started south, hiking up the first trail I’ve used here in Baja. There just aren’t many trails down here. Hiking on a trail again was kind of a novelty, after four months of making my own. Stepping easy, and making good progress (I was designed for walking up steep hills), I was soon atop the first overlook and blown away by the view. I stopped to smell the roses, so to speak.
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The thin trail continued to stretch further south over and up a much higher ridge, and I was happy to oblige my sense of wonder and excitement as I climbed higher to an ever improving view.

At the apex of height, the trail descended to a perfect secluded beach. I had visions of meeting my one true love at the bottom, or at least some alluring senorita, but alas, it wasn’t to be. One day….
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I did find a beautiful cardon cactus standing tall at the edge of the beach. It had five stalks rising high like the fingers of a skinny hand. I liked its position in life. Not too close to the sea, but close enough for an excellent view.

Dry Wash

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I purposely angled to the shady side of the arroyo in hopes of finding highlighted cactus scenes. Instead I found myself on the cusp of shadow and light, perfect for black and white. This common scene of a dry wash gets much more interesting in low angled light.

Last Hike on Danzante

The climb was sketchy at best. Loose chunks of crumbling rock and gravel pieces lay on a steep hillside of scratchy desert brush and small cactus. To fall, meant pain. I was climbing my way up to the top of a high bluff that would overlook the entire north side of Isla Danzante. This would mark my last hike on this island for awhile, and I wanted to make it a good one. On my first hike on this island way back in December, I hiked up to a high point, that I could see not to far away. This would make bookends so to speak, with all kinds of memories in between.

With deliberate steps I made it up, and took in the view. It was satisfying, over looking the rugged landscape of rock bluffs, islands, the mountain ridges of the Sierra de la Giganta, and the sea. A single clump of cardon was placed perfectly, and I knew that was the picture I would take home with me. I took one photo, took in the view, and said farewell.
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From Sea

The Layered Ridges
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I love the layered shades of the coastal mountains and rocks. These landscapes are begging to be drawn; I want to sketch them out in shaded charcoal on my sketchpad. For now, a photograph will have to do.

Dolphins and Mountain Light
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Baja a remarkable experience because of the ocean wildlife melds so nicely with desert scenery and mountains. This photo has several names that come to mind: “Bottom’s Up”. “A Dolphin Mountain Gallery” or “Dolphins at Dawn.”


In looking at these photos, I wondered what goes into a good landscape? I decided one of the more important elements is space. With a strong subject and artfully arranged, they become appealing to the senses. That’s really all I am, an observer who arranges his own artwork to take home.

I hope you find time to get outside and see what it looks like beyond that next ridge.

Posted by Rhombus 10:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes beaches desert rocks seascapes oceans photography Comments (0)

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