Pattison on Wheels

Thursday, March 6, 2008

2-28-08: To Lopez Mateo

I did as much Internet uploading and telephony as I could before check out time at noon and then hit the road. I had no destination but headed south. I stopped in at Playa Coyote to see if Frank was there. Someone I met at Playa Santispac mentioned that he was an interesting guy and I might like to meet him. I saw a tent next to an ancient and huge Mercury sedan. Then I realized that the guy who told me I might like to meet this Frank was parked right next to him and having seen me drive in was now waving me in and welcomed me and introduced me to Frank. Frank and I chatted for quite a while as he painted a deck on the front of his boat. The deck was specially designed to accommodate his dog. Frank is from Taos New Mexico and works as a plumber up there but is clearly a free spirit and living well. A man grateful for his life.

After a while I started getting itchy so I pulled out on Highway One again. I went through some amazing, stark, consistently weird country. Lots of views of the water with its amazing colors and a wealth of cacti. Near Loreto I saw some whale spouts and found a place to pull over. There were three young men there pointing toward the whales to show me before I even got stopped. I got out the binoculars and we took turns watching a couple pods. They were convinced that we were seeing blue whales but I need more research. I thought blue whale spouts were like fire hoses almost solid liquid straight up rather than the puffs of mist we were seeing or the heart shaped puffs from the grey whales.

Anyway, time to go and still not knowing where. I got to Loreto and wandered around the beach. I took some pelican photos and talked to some people then I went grocery shopping and drove a little south to scout out a place that should have a twelve step meeting tomorrow. I found it easily in a government development called Nopolo. I still didn’t know where I was going as I passed the place I am to meet my friend day after tomorrow. I could go there now and meet our hosts but I didn’t come all this way to be a guest so just pulled over and read the camping guide. The young whale watchers had mentioned there were grey whales at XX Mateo and it was almost in range so I went there by passing through the mountain range called Sierra de la Giganta, stark, rocky, and vertical, like broken teeth against the lowering sun.

It got dark on the way and what the guidebooks tell you about not driving at night is true here. I dodged quite a few road cows. Lots of osprey nests on platforms put on top of utility poles. The pairs of parental osprey silhouetted against an outrageous pink sunset.

The town doesn’t seem to have any hotels, motels, or campgrounds but they let you camp near the whale-watching area. I talked to some boat drivers who were hanging around and they told me all sorts of places I could camp including the covered roof of one of the stores along the beach. I opted for a remote spot at the end of a large cleared area right next to the water and some mangroves. Made myself a home, cooked dinner, and after eating I took a walk to explore the scene. There are about fifty boats ready to go tomorrow from the dock. A map shows an extremely long estuary opening to Magdelena Bay in the south with other openings to the north. Another world to witness and be with.

As I got ready to go to sleep I heard an exhalation coming from the beach that at first I thought might be a horse. There was something familiar about it alright. Then I realized it might be whale. So I walked the 20 feet to the beach and sure enough, it was coming from the estuary. So I walked out on the dock and as I passed the guard he asked: “Oiga una ballena?” Si. Yes, I heard a whale. I spent quite while out there hearing a mother and baby cruise by slowly toward the south. Then another whale came by. Later I heard what were probably dolphins. I heard more whale sounds when I awoke during the night.


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