Was it worth it to do the RV caravan to Baja?
The pasty, red-haired border agent hefted himself into our truck camper while a German shepherd sniffed our tires. The agent paused in our doorway to ask if we had any produce and if we’d collected any shells, then ambled back to our almost-bare refrigerator. After about 30 seconds he was out again, and, with sweat sliding down his jawline, gave us the “thumbs up”. Just like that we were back in the US, retracing the route we’d taken over a month earlier to get to Baja.
In the RVing world, Mitch and I are grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are the type of travelers who hop around constantly, stopping for just a day or two here and then a few days there. We land, explore, eat and drink at local establishments, and then we take off to see what else there is down the road. We rarely make reservations and, many times, we don’t even have a destination.
As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses to this type of traveling. Constantly hooking and unhooking the trailer, setting up and then dismantling, never knowing what to do with mail – all can get a little old. Also, I’m sure we miss out on really soaking up the “vibe” of an area and meeting other travelers (we don’t usually spend any time in the campground). Yet, for me, I can’t stand the thought that I might be missing out on something better. It is kind of a sickness. Not discontent yet never content, I’m always curious about what is around the next corner. And we have stumbled upon a lot of great spots that we never would have found if we had mapped out our route ahead of time.
This trip, however, has been one of our less “grasshoppery” trips. We stayed in New Orleans for five days, San Diego for an entire week, and finally, we just left Santa Cruz where we’d been for four whole days. Four days is about perfect. The week in San Diego got a little long for me.
We stayed in a campground just south of Santa Cruz called New Brighton State Beach. The location was great – our spot was on a cliff that overlooked the beach. We could hear the surf at night.
Santa Cruz is much bigger than I thought it would be. I was picturing a quaint beach town, but it is a full-fledged city. The wharf area has an amusement park (why do people need amusement parks at beaches? Aren’t the sand and waves enough? Mission Beach in San Diego actually had a wave pool right beside the beach!!) and a casino. People could pay to drive out on the pier where there were jewelry shops, and restaurants, and t-shirt shops. It was just as easy to walk out, which we did. The shops didn’t interest us but it was a great vantage point to watch the surfers. I’ve never been able to actually watch a surfer catch a wave from above.
A local told us about a great paddling spot just a little south of Santa Cruz called Moss Landing that had something for everyone. It is an inlet which is perfect for Mitch and me because I like flat water and he likes the waves and current. We launched and then parted ways. I went east, up Elkhorn Slough, and saw sea lions, mother and baby seals cuddled together,
sea otters floating on their backs while cracking shellfish over a rock placed on their stomachs, grebes, loons, ducks… Mitch went west, out the inlet. He caught a couple of waves, and then a huge wave caught him. It tossed him like a javelin. The nose of his boat jammed into the sand and he crashed hard. He survived but his heavy-duty NDK Explorer didn’t.
The day before we left we went on a great bike ride through Fort Ord Dunes State Park near Monterey. It had been a military base and, similar to Cape Henlopen State Park near us in Delaware, had old ammunition bunkers built into the sand dunes. The dunes were amazing. Instead of sea oats like we are used to on the east coast, they are completely covered with ice plants blooming with hot pink and purple flowers. From the top of the dunes we watched as paragliders floated past on the onshore breeze. The trail from the park met up with another bike trail that went all the way into Monterey with more great views of the bay. This coastline is simply incredible.