Monthly Archives: December 2007

Swimming in a Sea of Fairy Dust


bioAt nightfall, standing on the shore at Los Naranjos beach in Baja Concepcion, I noticed that the gently lapping waves seemed to be sparkling. Upon agitating the water with my hand there were even more sparkles. Absolutely magical this is the famed bioluminescence produced by the flagellate plankton who when agitated glow bright green as a way of scaring predators. In large accumulations, they produce “phosphorescent seas” in which crests of waves, surf, and waters around boats and swimming organisms glow electric blue. In the deep sea, where there is no sunlight, more than 90% of the animals are luminescent. Bioluminescence serves a number of important functions other than scaring predators such as prey attraction, illumination of prey, mate attraction, and predator avoidance. It also serves the purpose of making you feel like you are swimming in a sea of fairy dust. Now where are those kayaks…add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank


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Bear Necessities

Consider the bear facts…
Species under threat


Species under arrest


Species receiving Turner art prize for immediacy, visceral intensity and historic importance

turner bear

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Filed under Strange Findings/ Ramblings

Lazy Days at Bahia Concepcion, Mexico

The instant I arrived here I felt relaxed. Trying to read my book listening to the sounds of “The Band” drifting out from the neighbours cabin I found myself just gazing at the shoreline about 20 feet from the trailer watching a dog that from all account seems to be fishing. At no time did I see him catch as fish but his focus on the water around him walking along the beach with his tail wagging frantically for a least an hour makes me think that he may have had at least one vivid success in the past. Having meet the owner I later found out that this Labradoodle does fish. But the more experienced fishers are here and swallow up a lot of my gazing time. The pelicans sit in the water directly in front of me with their sinuous necks and enormous beaks resting in what no doubt is the most comfortable position possible, an S shape and their eyes observing all around. Having ignored for hours the incessant squawking of the two seagulls, who seem caught in some tortuous repetitive behavior picking and dropping things seemingly unable to fish and now engaged in a vicious fight trying to pull each others eyes out, the pelicans join me in trying to break up the fight.

pelican brown-mtybay

The pelicans fly in groups of about a dozen in single file over the water with a wave type approach to the flapping which I assume generates a air stream that allows those behind to glide inches above the water. Watching the world go by with a stillness I have never observed in a bird is the heron. With it’s tall thin legs and long pointy beak it stands solitary waiting in the water with the waves lapping against it’s perfectly still body to catch the odd passing fish. There are so many birds too numerous to mention. They spend less time on the beach and hang around the sandy fields of huge saguaro cacti perched on the tips of the cacti relaxing with their wings spread before soaring up into the sky to hunt for food. And best of all are the pods of dolphins who swim along the shore in the mornings with their fins bobbing in and out of the water.

As I sit in my trailer this morning looking out at the scene before me, the travel guide descriptions seem a little off the mark. The turquoise waters of the bay are nowhere to be seen instead there is a little drizzle which has been making an appearance on and off all through the night and it still lingering this morning. The water is uniformly grey. Most north Americans visit Baja to escape the cold winters up north but the winter months are not always that hot down in Baja. We have been informed that this is extremely unusual weather by those that have been frequenting the area for 10 or more years. There is cloud, sunshine and winds that sweep in during the afternoons and the water is tepid. For me this is perfect, long gone are the days of toasting myself in the sunshine, a task that was always an uphill battle with fair skin.

Bahia Concepcion is a bay that is about 20 miles in length with about 12 beaches offering various levels of camping. Right now it is undeveloped but the developers are moving in. There is a remax office about 3 miles north of here selling beach side property that hints at the development that lies ahead. For those visiting these beaches for the last 20 years and there are quite a few of them here at Los Naranjos, it already feels more developed but as most of them know this is still a far cry from Los Cabos with it’s first class hotels and golf courses. For now it is a chilled out bay with much more interesting flotsam and jetsam living in the beaches for the winter months. We were led to the Los Naranjos beach after a brief meeting in Catavina with the warm and friendly Roy, the pastor of a non-denomination church that sits on the beach less than a mile from the campsite who normally spend 6 months a year here . When asked what he does he replied in a Missouri accent, “Ahh haeve ma church and am going down to visit the schools as Santa Claus.”

The campsite has lots of longstay people here, mostly American who either own or rent Palapa’s which are woodframe huts with a covering of palm fronds for a roof on the beach or like us camp in their trailer. The beach is unique in that it offers water and sewage but all the power is solar. There is fishing right off the beach and the bay provides great kayaking for those armed with their own kayak. Yesterday while the fishing dog was busy in the shallow waters, another mutt with his life jacket on had the pleasure of a whole mornings kayaking with his owner much to the jealously of the other beach dogs who frantically swam after the kayak out into the bay. The sense of home and community is what strikes me about this beach. Many people have come and introduced themselves to us, invited us for food and coffee’s trying to establish whether we are going to be one of the community here. One of our neighbours, an Australian couple who are 4 months into their 18 month trip started in Vancouver, have decided not to bother exploring Mexico much more and see no reason to leave this beach sooner than February (in 3 months). At $10 a night for a camping spot or $15 for a palapa and rv spot along with with side trips down to the southern most tip doable in a day I can see they have a point. The only downside here is that you are living in a English speaking ghetto nevertheless with the site being run by Mexicans and with the town of Mulegé10 miles down the road you can still experience Mexico and have somewhere to further those Spanish skills or like the pastor Roy there are ways to engage with the local community especially if you look like Father Xmas.

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Filed under Camping, Mexico, Travel Hints

San Quintin to Catavina, Baja California


180px-Boojum treeThe trip continues into a landscape that is forever changing. This road to Catavina is far less busy and less populated, apart from one small town with a yellow cafe with a hand painted Starbucks logo to let you know that you can buy this good old brand in Rosarito, a dead horse, fields of garlic and of course the endless litter along the highway, this road was mostly surrounded by desert. For those not familiar with deserts the assumption is that is all looks the same, just vast sand dunes or sand with the occasional cactus. The desert is so diverse. We have been driving through desert now for over 1,000 miles through Utah, Arizona and now Baja California but the colour and texture of the sands, the density and variation of the flora keeps changing.The drive today was magnificent in places where the most unusual looking cacti revealed themselves. These are the Dr Seuss looking Boojum Trees and grow up to about 20 meters in tall thin trunks covered in thousands of short spines and flower just at the top in what looks like ‘Side Show Bob’s’ hair (of The Simpsons fame). They cover the landscape along with many other shapes and sizes of cacti.The campsite we found was cheap and cheerful at $6 a night which is a far cry from the $25-30 a night rates on offer in the mostly full hookup RV parks. Having an older trailer in the US made us standout a little but the nice thing about Mexico is that it fits right in and we are finding the more daring Americans riding these highways unaccompanied like real grown-us (not in a Caravan) also have older trailers.

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