Sunday, May 21, 2017

San Ignacio to San Quintin

Sunday, May 21st, San Ignacio to Catavina to San Quintin

Baja Cactus

Baja Cactus

White Knuckling Drive - Sharing the Highway with Big Rig Trucks

Today is another long haul along a white knuckle two lane highway with big rigs coming straight towards us with just inches to pass. The scenery however is jaw dropping and Art and I laugh at the quirky and diverse ‘Dr.Seuss’ cactus that scroll by our window. We stop several times to immerse and inspect the unusual vegetation along this route. Fields of a pinkish red ground cover blanket hillsides and on a closer inspection, this ground cover consists of millions of flower buds, each with many corpulent pustules bursting with liquid and beauty. How on earth does the desert capture this much liquid to supply these fields of succulent blossoms? 

Pink Succulent Ground Cover
Detail of Succulent Blossom

Catavina is a dot on the Baja map in a breathtakingly beautiful rocky valley of immense boulders and rock piled hillsides. Hotel Mission Catavina, the only hotel, is a comfortable modern oasis in the middle of nowhere. Although not particularly charming it offers air conditioned comfort; a pool, bar and restaurant. We are a bit road weary and would like to call it a day but we have a tentative date to meet with Fred and Cheryl in San Quintin tonight. After a 30 minute break for the bathroom at the hotel and snacks at a local market, we power on.

Catavina Boulders and Cactus
Baja Cactus

We arrive on the Pacific side of Baja in San Quintin by 6:00 P.M. I spot the sign for the El Jardine Hotel and Art turns off and drives the mile long dirt road, fringed with nopale cactus farms.

Nopale Cactus Farm, San Quintin

We stayed here in January of 2016 and it was lovely; manicured grounds, secure parking, comfortable rooms, nice restaurant and bar and reasonable prices. Unfortunately they are fully booked tonight but I ask the desk attendant how to get to the Wagon Wheel Hotel? He looks confused and suggests that I might be inquiring about the Old Mill Hotel? I quickly agree, realizing that I have incorrectly pictured a wheel rather than a wind mill. He directs us to the Old Mill, several miles away and when we arrive, we see Fred and Cheryl unloading their truck and settling into their simple room. The manager welcomes us with gusto, offers us free beers as a welcome drink but I boldly ask for margaritas instead. We settle into a worn but clean $50 room and are soon sitting outside our respective doors drinking our welcome Margaritas with Fred and Cheryl. The Old Mill sits directly on the inlet bay and Art and I wander down to the waterfront; embrace the touristy and tattered shark sculpture and an hour later, join Fred and Cheryl for dinner at the Old Mill Hotel. The gregarious and now quite drunk manager is also the cook but he has a gourmet flare and he prepares the four of us surprisingly good dinners!

Tattered and Tacky Shark Sculpture
The Manager and Cook, The Old Mill

Fishermen Enjoying drinks, Old Mill

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