Bahia de Los Angeles, 1986

In June of 1986 we had a family gathering in San Miguel to celebrate the completion of our new house (Su Casa) in Cibolas del Mar. Glenn suggested that we should plan a trip to Bahia de Los Angeles. Well, why wait? Lets do it right now!

I need to apologize to my daughters, Terry and Katy, for not including them in this adventure. They are both very good campers, able to do anything the boys can do. When we laid plans for a trip to SPM several years later, they made it known, loud and clear, that they were going! Ya gotta love ‘em!

Our group consisted of my sons, Dan, Glenn, Gerry and myself. David was not able to make it. I drove my little Toyota pickup, and Glenn drove his one-ton truck, pulling the trailer and boat, with outboard motor. We were on the road at first light. First light, by the way, is sort of a family tradition. On all of the many camping trips with my father, our goal, always, was to be up at first light, fix breakfast, pack up, and be on the road by sun- up. We were apt to stop no later than mid-afternoon. Getting an early start allowed us more time in the afternoon to select a good place to camp.

Departure from San Miguel

Lunch stop, near San Augustine

We stopped for lunch at a roadside café named Tres Enrique’s, in the area of San Augustine. Before the new paved road was built, the old road went past a ranch called San Augustine. It was there that Grampa Utt stopped to pick up his guide, Enrique Smith, for the drive to Bahia de Los Angeles, and La Paz in 1937. I would have to assume that there was a connection of those Enrique’s, as well as to the many Smiths in Loreto.

We arrived at the Bay with plenty of daylight to make camp. What a far cry from the four days it took us to make the journey in 1937! Our campsite was at the extreme north end of the Bay, where a sand strip connects the mainland to a large outcropping of rock. We had stayed one night there in our Appolo Motor Home in 1976. It was also from this spot that we started our exciting voyage across the bay during a windstorm, described in my account of the 1937 trip.

Gerry, Leigh, Dan Campo Robertson

We had taken a large steel grate to cook on, and gathered firewood along the road wherever we could find it. Many nice camping spots have no firewood available, so best to gather it as you travel! Fifty years of camping in Mexico had taught me a few things! Even though we were camping on a sand beach, we were within a hundred feet of a rocky beach, so finding rocks to support the cooking grate was not a problem. What was a problem was that the wind blew so hard in the evening that it was going through the gaps between rocks, blowing smoke at us, seemingly following us as we tried to cook.

Mission San Borja

When I woke up in the morning I had the answer to this problem in my head. I sent the boys to bring more rocks, while I went off with bucket and shovel to find some clay, or clayish, soil. I mixed this half and half with beach sand, and enough water to make the mix into a heavy mortar. With this mortar I started laying the rocks on both sides and the back of our stove. At the back I created a chimney about two feet high of stone and mortar. Now the combustion air could only enter at the front, and was drawn to the back and up the chimney. It worked quite nicely, and my boys were properly impressed! The old geezer still has his wits about him!

We went out fishing and touring the bay in the mornings, coming back to camp when the wind came up. One morning we woke up to high winds. After an hour or so, it became obvious that we were not going out on the water that day. Dan and I decided to make a run out to see the old Mission at San Borja. I had been hearing about San Borja for 50 years, but never gone there. We packed a lunch, and headed back out the highway in the Toyota. A sign directed us onto a dirt road to the left. After a few miles we came to a small ranch, and a man feeding his livestock. When we asked about the road ahead, he assured us that we were indeed on the right road, and that our pickup would have no trouble on the road, and would we please take him with us to the Mission! Apparently he had friends there. So off we went, not knowing what perils awaited us! The road was pretty decent for several miles, then, as we started traveling in the bottom of a long canyon, it became very rough. The roadbed was more rock than sand. The farther we went, the worse it got. It also became quite apparent that my little Toyota was not a Baja Buggy. It had very little ground clearance, so that no matter how hard I tried, I could not avoid hitting rocks. I was creeping along at a snail’s pace, but finally hit something that caused the left front of the vehicle to collapse.

Interior Stairwell

We had to jack it up just to see what the problem was. This model Toyota had torsion bar front suspension, and I had hit something hard enough to separate the torsion bar from it’s rear anchor, allowing the frame of the truck to settle on the front axle. When I bought the PU in 1980, I also bought a set of Metric wrenches. I had those, along with other tools in my toolbox. After much huffing and puffing we were able to get the rear anchor assembly unbolted and out on the ground. It was a sorry looking mess! Using a heavy hammer, with a large rock as the anvil, and some persuasion from a large Crescent wrench, I eventually got it back close to it’s normal shape, and installed it under the PU. Improvise! Remember?

Glenn, Gerry, Leigh, and fish

Not wanting to go through that routine again, I barely crept the rest of the way to the Mission. It surely was worth the effort! We spent quite some time there. When it came time to leave we decided to take the long route back to the Bay. We certainly didn’t want to go through that rock pile again! So off we went, west to Rosarito, North to Punta Prieta and the paved road to the bay. This turned out to be a much longer route than we had anticipated. I think that we were driving in the dark as soon as we got onto the road to the bay. We knew that the boys in camp would be worried about us, but there was nothing we could do about that. Glenn and Gerry were so happy when we got back to camp. They had been following our headlights as best they could since we started down the grade to the Bay. Their hands were sort of tied, because heading out in the dark to look for us would probably end up with all of us being lost! It was a memorable, if long, day, and we were all safe in camp.

The boat, the Boys, the Bay

By 1986 Bahia de Los Angeles had become quite a little town. One night I treated us to a very nice turtle steak dinner, at a very nice restaurant. Turtle steak was a first for the boys.

I guess it’s nice that so many people can enjoy the Bay today, and that so many people are making a living there. However, the purely selfish part of me, that I try to keep hidden in the farthest corners of my soul, would prefer to remember it as it was in 1937, when we had it virtually all to ourselves

Sunrise over the Gulf. Can it get any grander than this?


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