Pattison on Wheels

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Camped Out On Santispac Beach South Of Mulege.

I committed to a week to get the rate down from $7/day. It is very pleasant and much as I remembered. More people of course, fewer birds and fish. I was delighted to see the frigate birds are still here and enjoyed watching an osprey patrol the beach this morning.

I’m realizing I must have been pretty fried out yesterday to not notice the osprey nests on the power poles between Mulege and Bahia Conception not to mention the xmas decorations in Mulege. I am basically off duty for the first time since I left Santa Rosa on Feb 3. It is warm. There is a breeze. I’m home for a week. I will take advantage of it. Note photo of domestic scene. I promise not to overdo this sort of shot although the blog photos will be more about the trip and the flickr shots more about the photography.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Mulege, Baha California Sur, Mexico

2-14-08 9PM
Here’s the deal. I’m 230 miles south of Ensenada and I’m still wearing a sweat shirt and my parka. It’s raining like mad. Must keep going.

I was shocked by the increase in population since I was here in December 1976. It hasn’t changed much in quality but the quantity is overwhelming. I was glad to get to the unpopulated and untrashed areas south of Ensenada. I was tempted to turn around and flee many times. I stopped for supper in El Rosario and a perky gringa asked if I spoke English. Apparently she is running the motel attached to the restaurant and was full of answers to my questions about where to stay down the road. She gave me a map that had lots of tourist info including the news that I should have a tourist card. Whatever. I loved driving into the night because there were almost no cars on the road. It had been quite busy until after six when I passed through San Quintin. I stopped at a sad motel in Cataviña.

I was rolling by 8:30 feeling a little sick (from the breakfast?) but as the day wore on I felt fine and enjoyed the long empty road. Stopped for a few photos but mostly enjoyed the huge, varied, weird scenery without documentation.
I heard there was a twelve-step meeting in Mulege at 3PM so I tried for it. I got there in plenty of time but couldn’t find the meeting. Think about it. I had a whim to go into Mexico day before yesterday and now I’m more than a thousand kilometers south of the border. Be careful what you whim for. At times it has felt like Orfeo Negro descending with all the kitsch and mercantile voodoo. Many times I had a strong urge to turn around and go back but, for whatever reason, here I am.

Mulege is a little town on the Gulf of California that took me in after I had a motorcycle crash in 1976. It was kind and friendly then and seems so now. I recuperated from a dislocated shoulder and spent xmas at a little bay south of here and will go back there to find a place tonight. I remember that I slept in a tent right by the water’s edge and it was the only place I have ever been that the fish kept me awake. There was so much sea life that it was turbulent all the time. Nothing stays the same. We'll see how it looks now. This culture doesn't make any effort to cover up how toxic civilization really is. I don't think they have any time for such niceties.

As I uploaded this from the Internet Cafe, some people came in and I overheard them talking about having been to a meeting. Sure enough, it is a few doors away and there are other meetings during the week. Oh yes, I'm covered.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hasta Bebé

So what I am considering is a hypothesis that goes something like this: As long as I pretend to be OK when I’m not, I won’t feel OK. The idea is that by covering up my distress I am more or less sealing the problem into my life such that it won’t get solved. I know this is not new but it riffs off my experience yesterday when I noticed my discomfort and that gave me choice to feel differently—which I then did. It was so dramatic and pleasant that I would like to understand it more deeply.

I got packed up just before it started raining this Valentine’s Day morning. Which is good because I would hate to pack a bunch of wet gear and tent. My Mexico insurance begins at 1PM so I have a little time to prep for the crossing. I am already worried about the return crossing because the car is such a jumble of gear and food and clothes and random items that I brought along “just in case.” So I shall look at my worry about the border and how it makes me feel and how it is connected to the bizarre history I have in crossing the border including one 13 kilo smuggling success and one stoned clumsy failure with consequences that won’t ever go away.

I get nice email from friends. I chatted with my Mom today warning her that the cell phone won’t work while I’m in Mexico. She said it won’t be the first time she hadn’t heard from me for two weeks. That’s true.

I bought a map of Baja, a camping guide, and an English-Spanish/Spanish-English dictionary. One more stop at REI. Hasta bebé!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Just to catch up: I stayed at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park on Monday night. It was over 4000 feet altitude so was cold but had hot showers and lots of bird life which has been missing from my recent desert days. It was almost empty and not very scenic because of preceding year's fires in the area. Tuesday I drove into San Diego to get some work done on the car. I found a brilliantly bright sunny state park on the beach so signed up for two nights. I got some nice shots of the sunset. By morning it was wet and foggy. I took it personally. Cosmic bait-and-switch.

I went to get more work done on the car but the mechanic was pushy and rude so I canceled and went to a local cafe instead. At first I felt as if I would get struck by lightning for rejecting abuse but then felt good about putting humanism ahead of some practical agenda. I decided to go to Baja for a while.

I went to a local insurance office to get insurance for Mexico. It took the agent a long time to get the information. I fretted about the time passing then noticed myself and suddenly everything was fine. Beautiful and pleasant in the busy little office—everything as it ought to be and life passing gently like an elegant entertainment. This ease is what I always think others feel. Perhaps they do. Not me much. Oh, I try to pretend to alright.

Depending on when my tent dries out in the morning I’ll head south. Further. I always wanted to say that.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Midday At The Oasis


OK so I was embarrassed to mention that when I took a walk in the Mojave National Preserve a few days ago I felt a kind of animism. It happened again when I drove through some of the huge landscapes in the following days. Especially one time when Donald Bird’s “Christo Redentor” was playing on the car stereo. I can’t really say what this trip is about but it has something to do with that sense that there is more than random accident going on around here.

Sometimes in meditation I feel the love and basic OKness of the universe and even in this morning’s meditation—just as I was internally whining about my neighboring camper's taste in music—I accepted everything. I accepted the biggest of all packages and was even moved by the music for an ephemeral moment.

So all the detail about to follow is just a narrative to hold a context for looking at things. It was good to get out of Lake Havasu City. It was both expensive and depressing. Joshua Tree National Monument was beautiful and the Jumbo Rocks Campground was good but cold because of the altitude. So on to Desert Palm Springs campground in Anza-Borrego State Park which was actually warm but also expensive and had too many noisy neighbors carousing and interfering with a virtuoso coyote concert.

So, wending ever southward, I got to Bow Willows Campground. Ah. Hot. Seven bucks a night. I’m signed up for a couple days to hike and get some exercise for the first time this week. And exercise I did. I went on a long hot hike to a small cool oasis called Southwest Grove. Then up into the rocks on a vague trail to Torote Bowl which I followed uphill to the end and then I lost the trail on the way down. My thighs were beginning to cramp and I was wondering if this was the end. I stopped to try to send a text message giving my location in case I didn’t get back to the campground through some accident. Plenty of signal but the message failed to send. The ground was really rough. I made it over about a half mile of assorted rocks before I found the trail again. My feet are blistered, my thighs are on fire, and I am going to sleep well tonight.

Sunday Feb 10
I got to hiking again by 11 using directions from a park flyer but again the trail was not really marked and got me to my destination by luck primarily and a tough hike over big rocks. But the lovely grove of native California Fan Palms called Palm Bowl was worth it. I spent most of the day there. Nothing to do. Nothing to learn. Nothing to teach. Nothing to tell. What a relief! And the most amazing thing—not a single other human showed up. After four and a half hours I so bonded with the palms that I felt like making some sort of sacramental gesture on leaving. This has been what I was hoping for: a day with nature with that strange communion that puts my little agendas in perspective and lets me relish a free-floating clarity not put to any purpose whatever.