Two days later we fired up our caravan and formed a slender
column of assorted vehicles winding up the narrow melting
blacktop toward the 28th parallel and on to the Bay of Los
Angeles. We hit the junction between the highway and the road to
the bay, swung east. An hour later we all pulled off the
pavement at the small summit, still miles from the water, where
we got the best view of the Sea of Cortez spread majestically
trhere in panorama, Angel de la Guardia defining the horizon.
Before us lay the Bahia de Los Angeles and her cluster of large
and small islands pushing upward through the waters surface;
tans, reds of the volcanic land and deep blues of the gulf. From
this vantage point we could see almost the entire bay, from the
scattering of houses at the south end, to La Gringa at the
north. Mary Ann and I had built our first hut here, just after
we were married and before Michael and Kevin had been part of
our lives. This bay would always be our Baja home. It was the
place we had shared so many magical moments over the decades,
where we had come to escape so many encumbered moments north of
the border. We took pictures and shot some video before we piled
back into our vehicles and went into the village for cerveza
before heading out to La Gringa.
Las Hamacas was open and only a couple of gringo kids, probably
from the college, were sitting outside. We pulled in with
several clouds of dust, shut engines off and listened to the
quiet. The wind was off the water and the temperature was
pushing one hundred. The humidity was somewhere around ninety.
We arranged several tables end-to-end and sat on the patio. A
few margaritas were ordered but mostly beer and we scanned the
"If you like fish, their pescado empanizado is absolutely the
best." I said. But, of course, that's true just about everywhere
We were bemoaning the temperature-humidity combination. We could
just sit there without moving and drip sweat. I walked to the
edge of the patio, looking north.
"It'll be better at La Gringa. There's no halo around the
volcano." I said.
We ate and dropped by the Diaz Ranch. Sammy was in Ensenada for
a few days; Chubasco was tending the store.
"Hey, Mike! How are you? Just get in?"
"Yeah. We just stopped by for water and ice before we head out
to La Gringa. Sure is hot. Where're the fish?"
"They've been getting some nice yellow just south of Piedra
We made our simple purchases and bought boat gas and headed out
of town. An hour later we pulled onto the gravel berm at La
Gringa. I was home.
It seems like every time we arrive there it's late in the
afternoon and the whole place just comes alive after the heat
and winds of the day. We all positioned our motorhomes, trailers
and tents, setting up awnings, tables, ice chests, portable
stoves, pressure cookers for canning in case we hit heavy
yellow. The kids stripped to shorts and hit the water. By the
time we were finished the sun had fallen beneath the hills to
the west. We circled folding chairs on the beach and opened cold
beers. The water was lapping ten feet from our camp. Pelicans
were working their way to the rocks that formed the point of La
Gringa. Behind us the lagoon filled as the tide rose. A Grey
Heron lifted into the air slowly, circling our camp at a wary
distance, emitting a long rough-throated crooooaaak and landed a
hundred yards north of us on the bay side. The kids found a loaf
of moldy bread and fed the gulls, which collected in great
numbers along the beach.
Gently the sun set behind the hills to the west and colors
returned to the eastern sky. Far out over the water, in the
center of the sea of Cortez, major collections of cumulus
lumbered northward toward the border where they would erupt into
the torrential downpours that frequent Arizona during the summer
months; the monsoons. Reds, oranges and yellows filled the sky
and draped over the clouds. Heat lightning blazed occasionally
over the water.
There was no major meal that night. We had eaten so late in the
day that we just opened another beer or soda and some a can of
something-or-other. The kids handled their own dinner.
Gradually we completed the chores of getting settled and folding
chairs gathered in an erratic circle on the stones by the beach.
We fell into the time-honored customs of so many trips with
friends. The men told worn stories on each other that kept us
laughing. The ladies harangued their spouses. We discussed the
likelihood of good fishing the next morning, who was going, and
where. We cleaned and assembled poles and reels, inspected
lures and sharpened knives. As the evening wore on - they were
all early evenings here on the beach - the inevitable bottle of
Cuervo Gold appeared, passing in waves up and back the circle of
chairs. And, as always, eventually the circle dwindled as
friends and families folded their chairs flat and weighted them
with stones to keep them from flying away in a late night wind
that might come up. By nine, the kids were settled and quietly
playing a game or listening to the old radio shows you can often
pick-up from Utah. By ten it's down to Bill, John and me, all
sitting on the stones and fading quickly. The half-empty
tequila bottle is resting precariously between us, also on the
stones. And finally, Bill and John have turned in and it's down
to just me. But this is my time. My time to just sit with my
bare feet in the water, to listen to the tinkling of the wet
stones as the gentle water ebbs and flows, turning them with wet
whispers, smoothing them. There's just enough of a Moon for me
to see silky silhouette of two blue point crabs, side-stepping
south, under inches of water, looking for morsels we dropped
during the day. All things come together here and my world was
once again homogenous, single and ordered. All the sights and
sounds of nature merge in my mind's eye and I am completely at
rest. I turn almost outside myself and feel my breathing become
deeper and I am thankful to have come home.
We spent a week there fishing, swimming in the 80-degree plus
waters of the bay and romping with the seals, dolphin and
whales. Even now, years after the event of the eclipse, I feel
that we all shared one of only a few moments in life that was
somehow magical, somehow outside the fritter of our lives
dealing with the normal, predictable details we cope with daily.
At Land's End our group shared an experience that we would carry
with us, a bonding agent, along our individual paths through
life. Sharing an other-worldly phenomenon like that is
unforgettable. And you carry it forward, among the few, other
like events, kept in a special place in our minds and hearts.