Baja California is trailer park HQ America. The sheer quantities of RVs and trailer homes and other campers is astounding. Outstanding really. Our van fits right in. Thus, I wasn’t surprised to see the dozens of transient homes filling the valley between the highway and Gonzaga Bay. This valley, however, unlike others we’d passed, seemed more like a trailer graveyard. Heaps of construction materials and rusted cars and half-built structures were scattered between the trailer graves. I feared we’d made a mistake stopping here, like the empty lot to our left, would be the final resting place for the van.
We pulled next to a dilapidated building labeled ” es aurant” (a couple letters were missing). A man dropped his Bud Light, took our pesos, and then opened the gate. We proceeded up a rocky hill. A pristine bay, free of all the clutter in the proceeding valley, awaited us. We chose a palapa right on a beach. We chose unwisely. We got stuck in the sand. Fortunately, we’d been caravaning with a fun family from Alberta, Canada — Francois, Crystal, Quinn, and Leo — and they were able to pull us out. Then we all drove to opposite, rockier side of the beach (I believe there’s a parable in there somewhere) and setup camp. The view, as you can see, was exceptional.
After we setup, we quickly met two other Idahoans and a group of Canadians a few sites down (a disproportionate number of Idahoans and Canadians travel these parts). They encouraged us to eat at the ” es aurant” we passed on the way in, the one I was convinced incubated several exotic strains of hepatitis. But we were starving, and hunger typically trumps cleanliness, at least for the Lingles. Inside was clean enough, though the toilets didn’t have water. It was also plastered with the pictures of the owner (or once-upon-a-time owner), Papa Fernandez, a four-foot short Mexican that resembles Clint Eastwood, and ever much taller white person that had wandered into the restaurant, including John Wayne. The John Wayne!
The food, like the view of the bay, was exceptional — you got the taste that most everything was grown and caught in the valley. We ordered a second round of fish tacos. Then we departed if John Wayne was bald and wore a toupee in his films. The picture in Papa Fernandez was somewhat damning….