Baja California (30)

Ranchera in Baja California Sur

In 1988, I bought my first 4 × 4 Tacoma pickup truck and headed for Baja California. This was shot on the Naranjas road, which goes from north of San José Del Cabo across the Sierra La Laguna mountain range to the Pacific Ocean near Pescadero. It’s a dirt road, rough in spots, and at times closed due to rock slides or washouts. This was at an immaculate rancho about halfway along the road. The ranchera told me she had six kids and that her husband was in the hospital. A beautiful home, built of (obviously) all local materials. These ranches, many of which are in almost inaccessible spots in Baja California, usually run dairy animals: cows or goats, or beef cattle. She took off her hat and posed proudly in front of her home.

Post a comment (3 comments)

Peninsula South: Returning to Baja


Herbie and Nathan Fletcher: Peninsula South
from Nixon on Vimeo.

Nixon brings together larger-than-life surf legends Herbie and Nathan Fletcher for a road trip down memory lane in a new short film entitled Peninsula South, where the father and son team head down to Baja and revisit some old haunts from previous adventures. Director Riley Blakeway captures Herbie’s pioneering spirit and the close-knit relationship he has built with his son Nathan as they set out on an expedition they’ve not made together in over twenty years, reignites both their love for Baja and their deep appreciation for one another. By the late ’60s, Herbie had already begun exploring Baja in search of uncrowded lineups and adventure. As his life moved forward, he built a family who share his love of travel, and who have joined him countless times to explore the fickle southern peninsula. On this latest mission, Nathan discusses his father’s contagious, childlike enthusiasm for surfing and life, and shares how he hopes to pass those ideals down to the next Fletcher generation. See more at nixon.com/baja

From Gary at Tin Roof Ranch on the North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Post a comment

Our Next Book: Rolling Homes

My Baja Bug* from the ’90s. A “pre-runner,” used back then to run the Baja 1000 race course before the race. Fiberglass fenders and hood, shocks came up and tied into roll bar, 15-gal. gas tank behind rear seat. Rocket Box on roof, with solar panel that charged 2nd battery. There was a 12′ by 14′ flea market tarp inside box that I would set up for shade.

I kept it at La Mañana Hotel in San José del Cabo, would fly down, pick it up, and drive 15 miles on dirt roads out to an arroyo, then let air out of tires and go about 2 miles on the sand to a spot called “Roosterfish Cove.” I’d set up the tarp (shade is critical in Baja camping), and spend 3-4 days solo on the beach, surfing at “Destilladeras,” a short paddle from my camping spot. Since I was still a competitive runner, I’d run along the beach when it was cool enough.

It was my camping vehicle until it ended up under water in a flood from Hurricane Henriette in Los Cabos in 1995 (26″ rain in 24 hours).

The idea of a sequel to our book Tiny Homes on the Move has been kicking around here for a while. There are some really good books on nomadics out there now, such as Van Life, by Foster Huntington (who coined the term/hashtag #vanlife), Van Life Diaries by Morton, Dustow and Melrose, and Hit the Road by Robert Klanten and Maximilian Funk.

But after talking to Foster, who encouraged me to go ahead, and starting to gather material, I’m excited. We’ve discovered a lot of different and new rigs; this book will be different. The Sprinter vans are super, true, but there are a lot more lower-cost and/or homemade options to the +100K van.

If you know of any such vehicles, please contact me at lloyd@shelterpub.com

*How ironic that the “people’s car,” or “folks’ wagon,” developed in Germany by Ferdinand Porsche on orders from Adolf Hitler in 1938, would go on to become not only the most popular car in history, but the go-to car for desert rats.

Post a comment (2 comments)

Shelter and The Whole Earth Catalog in Abandoned Baja Hacienda

Hello there, Mr. Lloyd Kahn,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing okay during these turbulent times!

I am a big fan of your books and have been poring over them for years for inspiration, joy, hope, and encouragement. I feel the pull to go on and on here and tell you about myself but I don’t want to take up your precious time.…

We fell in love with Baja on our travels as many do, and I know you can relate. We especially loved the oasis town of Mulege. We made good friends while we were there and had to go back. This past January we drove back there in our truck without the travel trailer this time. We rented a house from a friend that was in a hilltop neighborhood (Loma Azul) with the desert for its backyard with hikes through that magic desert to quiet beaches. We put our 10- and 7-year-olds in the local school; (they had been in Spanish immersion in the past but this was a new level). We had planned to be there for three months but sadly as we saw the news begin to break about the coronavirus, we decided to head back home to NC to get a garden started and help our families prepare to get hunkered down, and I am glad we did.

While we were in Mulege on a walk through the desert, we stumbled on an abandoned dwelling with a view of the ocean. It had a few little buildings and some outdoor patio spaces. Such a beautiful and dreamy spot.

It clearly had been abandoned years ago and was in a state of decomposition. The buildings were filled with stuff! It seems someone had just up and moved away and then a big storm hit. Dishes, clothes, books, on and on!
Read More …

Post a comment (5 comments)

Home Sweet Home on Baja Beach

I’ve probably posted this before, but I just ran across it again. 1983 Toyota 4×4, a few years before they had independent suspension for front wheels. The Baja natives preferred it because the front axle was stronger. Air Camping tent, made in Italy; this was before rooftop tents were even known in the USA. Up off the beach, or desert floor, no worry about snakes or scorpions, breezes blew through mosquito netting. I’d drive 12 miles east of San Jose del Cabo, then down an arroyo to beach, then let air out of tires and go another 2 miles on soft sand to a secluded spot where there was surf, fish and a shipwreck. I’d orient the tent so that I faced the water, put up the 12′ by 14′ flea market tarp (anchored by hanging sand bags), and spend 4-5 days in solitude. No need for clothes.

In summer heat, I’d pretty much stay inside the shade from 11 AM to 5 PM; the sunrises and sunsets were exquisite times of day. Go surfing or paddling or swimming, run on beach, wander in desert. The tropical desert in Los Cabos area (just below Tropic of Cancer) is subtle. When you get to know it, you see all kinds of life and beauty therein.

I’d remove all signs of having visited the beach when I left.

Of course, I hear there’s a house there now, and I’ll bet some gringo has blocked beach access.

Post a comment

Pufferfish from Baja California Sur

I found this on a beach on the East Cape of Cabo San Lucas.These fish inflate to discourage predators (and how!). They have no pelvis and few ribs, allowing them to inflate and become spherical without breaking bones. Their skin contains an abundance of collagen fibers that allow it to expand 30 to 40%.

From National Geographic:

…Toxicity A predator that manages to snag a puffer before it inflates won’t feel lucky for long. Almost all pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them foul tasting and often lethal to fish. To humans, tetrodotoxin is deadly, up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. There is enough toxin in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.

As Food: Amazingly, the meat of some pufferfish is considered a delicacy. Called fugu in Japan, it is extremely expensive and only prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer. In fact, many such deaths occur annually.…

I have it hanging in my shop. Kids love it.

Post a comment (1 comment)

Higginbotham Twins Start Paddle Journey

Ryan and Casey Higginbotham, lifeguards from Pismo Beach, California, have just set out on an 1100 mile paddleboard trip from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. A year ago, they paddled 2,200 miles, from Alaska to Tijuana — 7 months on the water. They are now continuing their southward voyage. After reaching Cabo, they’ll rest, then paddle across the Sea of Cortez, heading for South America. Total badasses!

They visited us here a few months ago and went through my library of Baja books. I have a detailed out-of-print Baja atlas, which they copied and are using for navigation.

You can follow them at: www.pikbee.com/byhandproject.

Here’s a recent posting:

We failed to do a little research and showed up at Border Field State Park to a locked gate. After walking everything out Casey got cleaned up on the first surf entry. The biggest challenge is adjusting to all the weight on the boards again. We each rolled atleast a dozen times. At the end of the day it really didn’t matter. We made it to Rosarito and it feels good to be back on the water. The body is going to take some time to adjust to this on the daily. It’s a 19 miler to La Fonda tomorrow and we’re stoked to see what day 2 has in store, nothing bad has happened yet!

Post a comment

Beach Camping in Baja California Sur

Left to right:

  • My 1983 Toyota Tacoma 4X4 with 8-foot bed parked at Roosterfish Cove, Destilladeras (several miles farther out on the East Cape from Shipwrecks). This model did not have independent suspension for front wheels; desert rats preferred it because it was tougher.
  • Air Camping tent (made in Italy) on roof. When flap was up, it faced water. Had mosquito netting, mattress, pillow, sheets inside. Ladder holds up cantilevered section. Great for the desert, no worry about snakes, scorpions. I would 4-wheel it out in the desert on my travels in Baja at night, go down into arroyos and sleep. Stealth.
  • 9-foot Haut 3-fin board
  • Yakima Rocket Box on roof, which contained:
    • 10-by-12-foot flea market tarp for shade. There was a solar panel on the Rocket Box that charged up an extra battery. Note sandbags hanging in corners to hold tarp down in wind; no stakes nec.
    • fishing rod

I would fly into San José del Cabo, pick up the truck at my friend Chilon’s house, drive out to an arroyo on a ranch, down to the beach, let air out of tires and go 2 miles or so on the sand to Roosterfish Cove. All alone for days. No clothes nec.

Post a comment (4 comments)