Agua VerdePunta Mechudo Binational Expedition
Getting the Show on the Road
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
San Diego to Cataviña, Baja California
Transmitted from our quick camp by an Apple computer hooked to a Qualcomm/GlobalstarUSA satellite phone.
The Binational Expedition officially began today. Research teams left the Museum parking lot early in the morning, packing up base-camp supplies, research equipment, and food. Every vehicle was filled with crates, boxes, and bags. After months of planning and preparation, everyone was excited to start the caravan southward. Once we figured out how to fit the equipment, we started up the engines and said our farewells.
Crossing the border went smoothly and the procession headed down the toll road. Along the way, we stopped at the Universidad Autonoma Baja California (UABC) in Ensenada to pick up Mexican researchers and students. If the cars weren’t full before, they were certainly full now. At this point, the expedition caravan had become more of a straggled, loosely connected group of trucks and vans. Jon Rebman, the Curator of Botany, was out in front, while logistics personnel and the remaining researchers fell behind to get their tourist cards, exchange money, and thankfully eat fish tacos.
In Cataviña, we met up again and decided to stop for the night. We had traveled 300 miles down the peninsula and a quick camp was made under the boojums, cardón cactus, and elephant trees. Many of us had worked up to the moment of departure, so settling in for a peaceful night under the stars was a blessing we couldn’t wait to take advantage of. All of us went to bed with anticipation and excitement. There was still a long ways to go before our first base-camp would made in Arroyo Los Dolores along the coast of the Sea of Cortés in the remote Sierra de La Giganta.
From my tent at 9:45pm
Thursday, November 6, 2003
Cataviña to Ensenada Blanca, Baja California
Transmitted from camp by an Apple computer hooked to a Qualcomm/GlobalstarUSA satellite phone.
|Arriving at Ensenada Blanca: First Assembly Area
We woke up to a beautiful morning in Cataviña. It is a place where giant granite boulders emerge from the landscape and endemic, arid-adapted plants abound. We hadn’t unpacked the trucks and vans fully, so what we did take out was easily packed again. We were underway earlier and continued our journey southward.
At San Ignacio, BCS, we stopped for a rest and to eat lunch. San Ignacio has always been a safe, peaceful harbor for the Baja traveler. Its mission, town-square, and people offer a relaxing atmosphere in this desert oasis town. The effects of the two hurricanes were evident, with washed-out roads and scoured ponds. Five months ago, the ponds were lined with vegetation. Now, many of their banks were simply mud and rock.
From San Ignacio, onward, the peninsula is green. Flowers line the roadside and plants are full with leaves. In most years, the desert is bark-brown and the soils are easily seen. Now, the desert is growing, with hardly a direction seen that isn’t green. The herpetologist found a Baja California ratsnake just south of Loreto. It was DOR, or dead on the road, but will still make fine specimen. Baja California ratsnakes appear to be more active in the Fall months, so it isn’t unusual to see them at this time of year.
Team Botany was again out in front. They arrived at the first Assembly Area in Ensenada Blanca. Before they arrived, they had one small problem: They had to find it! With the help of the locals, they were directed from the highway through a maze of dirt roads. Many were so thick with vegetation that it appeared they hadn’t been traveled on in decades.
When the rest of us showed up, after dark, we were in luck. Team Botany had remembered to leave their radios turned on. They heard are lost chatter and with the flick of their headlights, we spotted them a few miles away across the small embayment. I look forward to waking up and seeing the area in full light. Even at night it appears to be stunning.
From camp at 11:30pm
Cataviña in the Vizcaíno Region,
Binational research team stopping for lunch in San Ignacio
Mission at San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
Bradford Hollingsworth using laptop computer and satellite phone from Assembly Area camp at Ensenada Blanca
Photos by Bradford Hollingsworth
DAY THREE >>
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