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Chasing Down The Muse: A road trip in Baja

August 12, 2010|By Catharine Cooper

Summer vacation! The word bounces around inside my mouth with all the joy inherent in time spent away from 'normal' daily endeavors. The magic of vacation, or "holiday" to use the delightful British term, is to step away, to put down the mantle, and enjoy the natural rhythms of one's own body.

This August, to both escape the interminable grey and to find warm waters to surf, a drive was planned down Mex 1 with good friends Cathy Cox and Patrick Humphrey. The trip would include a birthday celebration for Patrick, who hails from Montana.

Cathy and I shopped for food and supplies. I made a border trip to obtain SENTRI status for my car. Mexican insurance was procured, tire pressure checked, along with all fluids and the spare. Buster watched me packing the suitcases and refused to leave my side. My dog wanted to make sure that he was part of the trip, and only began to relax when he saw his dog bed, toys and special "Animal Crackers Gina" food lined up with the other cases.

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The crossing at Otay Mesa was seamless, even though we were pulled over for inspection. After circling the new road on the east of Tijuana, we picked up Mex 1 heading south. Cathy had never driven the Baja, and I was anxious for her to absorb every stunning mile.

We had reservations at El Jardin for the first night, a lovely motel tucked off the main highway in San Quintin. The motel is set in the midst of verdant gardens that include a small orange grove, palms of several varieties, green lawns, and flowering plants. It is one of Buster's favorite romping spots — lots of open garden and birds to explore. We had reserved the "family" room, and couldn't stop laughing at how reminded we were of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Dinner in the adjacent restaurant was delicious — fish and lobster tacos. Toasts were raised to the happy travelers first night on the road, and all of us — even Buster — had sweet dreams.

Morning light and we were on the road to El Rosario for a requisite stop at Mama Espinosa's for coffee and huevos rancheros. Scrumptious as always. The restaurant is infamous on the peninsula, and the walls are covered with photographs of off-road racers of every variety.

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